Cork Airport marked the 10th birthday of its terminal yesterday with a renewed commitment to break the impasse threatening the launch of low-cost transatlantic flights from Cork.
MEP Deirdre Clune met airport bosses to discuss the continuing saga over the stalled decision by US authorities on a licence for Norwegian Airlines’ Irish subsidiary NAI to operate a Cork to Boston service this year, and a Cork New York service next year.
The launch of such services, which are facing bitter opposition from unions on both sides of the Atlantic who are critical of Norwegian’s employment practices, could transform the airport’s fortunes.
The European Commission has threatened the US authorities with arbitration, a process should get underway next month.
However, amid fears that that process could take several months, it is expected that political pressure will increase over the coming months in a bid to encourage the US Department of Transport to finally make a decision on a licence application which has been pending now for over two years.
Kicking off the terminal’s birthday celebrations yesterday, airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said some 25m passengers have travelled through the terminal since it opened in August 2005.
Mr MacCarthy said the addition of direct low-cost transatlantic services — once the logjam over the US licensing for Norwegian Air International Limited is finally resolved — would be a major win, not just for the airport and Cork but for the Munster region.
“We are hopeful that the recent intervention of the EU Transport Commissioner Violetta Bulc together with the support of the Irish Government will get this over the line,” he said.
The birthday celebrations come at the end of an impressive year of passenger growth at Cork Airport, which has seen new routes and capacity and new airlines make it the busiest airport in the Republic after Dublin.
“We plan to consolidate that growth with further announcements for 2017,” said Mr MacCarthy.
“Although we have a fine facility here, we continue to develop our offering which included the addition of a second airbridge in recent months, which is fully utilised, and a new fire training ground, which is about to commence construction.”
Mr MacCarthy also announced plans to reconfigure and upgrade the terminal’s food and beverage areas ahead of next year’s busy summer season, with plans to move the bar and food facilities from where they are now, before security, to the terminal’s airside — after passengers go through security.
There are also plans to extend the terminal’s executive lounge.
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