Calls for Government to intervene as licence delay threatens US flights from Cork Airport

Marketing manager Kevin Cullinane at Cork Airport

Cork’s county mayor John Paul O’Shea, has called on the Government to intervene following delays in the granting of a licence for the first transatlantic route from the city airport.

It is feared that he proposed Norwegian Air International (NAI) flights from Cork to Boston, due to launch in May, will not go ahead due to delays in the US side in granting a licence. The licence was sought two years ago.

Under the 2007 EU-US Open Skies deal, any airline registered and approved by an EU member State may be granted traffic rights to fly from any destination in Europe to any destination in the USA.

The independent councillor said the government needs to resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

“The minister for transport needs to take this to Brussels, needs to take this to Washington, and say that we are not standing for this, because we are a small regional airport doesn’t mean we have to be restricted in this way.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Tom O’Driscoll said Open Skies was established to give regional airports an opportunity to have transatlantic flights.

“In fairness to the management team at Cork Airport, they have been working very hard to do so and we thought we had a breakthrough last Autumn. Now we run into this totally unjustified delay on behalf of the US authorities to sanction this service,” said Mr O’Driscoll.

Kevin Cullinane, marketing manager at Cork Airport, said efforts are being made to ensure passengers can fly to Boston from early summer.

“When Norwegian made the announcement they had that caveat in their press statement at the time,” he said. “I don’t think they anticipated that it would take a further five months to get approval from the US authorities.

“Every effort is being made to lobby the US secretary of transport to expedite that approval process.”

NAI plans to operate its Cork transatlantic services with a narrow bodied Boeing 737-800 and the new Boeing 737MAX when it becomes available.

The company had planned to operate Boston flights about four to five times a week. A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport told the Irish Examiner the “application involves novel and complex issues and we are taking the necessary time to evaluate the long term application appropriately”.

“There is no statutory deadline or current estimate as to when the analysis will be complete,” she said.

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