The owner of iconic Blarney Castle has called on the Taoiseach to intervene to secure transatlantic flights from Cork.
Charles Colthurst, who owns the world-famous visitor attraction on the outskirts of Cork City, said it is still not too late for Enda Kenny to pick up the phone to US president Barack Obama as part of efforts to save the proposed Cork to Boston service.
He spoke out yesterday after low-cost giant Norwegian Airlines announced that it was deferring the May launch of its proposed Cork to Boston flights — blaming it on the unprecedented two-year delay by the US Department of Transportation on its foreign carrier permit application.
“I feel the people of Cork have been let down badly. This should have been an election issue and my fear now is that this is dead in the water,” Mr Colthurst said.
“It is terribly disappointing. These opportunities come along once in a lifetime and I fear we’ve missed the boat. If there is still a chance that a phone call would work, the Taoiseach needs to lift the phone before he meets Barack Obama on St Patrick’s Day.
“Securing the flights would be the best St Patrick’s Day news we could get.”
While Blarney Castle attracted just over 400,000 visitors last year — 200,000 of them Americans — Mr Colthurst said securing transatlantic flights from Cork was of regional importance.
“Not every American wants to fly in to Dublin Airport, and I know from my own contacts in the US that there was huge support for the proposed Cork to Boston flights,” he said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised the Government for not doing enough to secure the route.
“This is a matter the Government has not put enough time into,” he said. “The permits that need to be issued by the American Department of Transportation form part of the Open Skies agreement negotiated between the EU and US when Fianna Fáil was in government.
“The Government needs to have a more hands-on role in this process and use our positive ties with the US to help move this issue along.”
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