Irish public give support to Cork-Boston flight link

There is overwhelming public support for Norwegian Airlines’ plans to launch low-cost transatlantic flights from Cork Airport.

A survey of 1,000 Irish adults was conducted, as a final decision on the airline’s foreign-carrier permit application is still awaited from the US Department of Transportation (DoT).

Bosses at Norwegian, and at Cork Airport, last night urged the DoT to decide as soon as possible. Their call comes ahead of a gathering of global aviation leaders, for the AGM of the International Air Transport Association and the World Air Transport Summit, in Dublin, today.

SIPTU said airport workers from the around the world would protest outside the event, at the RDS, to highlight the attack on their pay and conditions, as more airline and airport services are being farmed out to subcontractors.

Norwegian announced plans last year to operate low-cost flights from Cork to Boston in 2016, followed by a Cork-to-New York route in 2017, using its Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI). NAI is also considering transatlantic flights from Shannon Airport.

The airline postponed its May launch of the Cork-to-Boston flights, because of DoT delays on the licence application. The DoT’s tentative decision to grant the licence, which it says complies with the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, is being fought by US and EU labour and pilot unions.

US presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have also come out against the licence.

But a new poll, carried out by leading Irish research company, Red C, shows strong public support for the proposed services. Red C surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and over. This included 280 Munster residents.

Results from the Munster residents showed that 58% were aware of Norwegian’s plans and 96% felt that it was important to have US routes from Cork and Shannon Airports.

Some 90% felt that a low-cost offering on transatlantic routes was needed in the Irish market, and 82% of Munster residents said if they were to fly to Boston or New York in the next 12 months they would use Norwegian’s proposed services from Cork.

The overall polling results revealed nationwide support for the planned flights.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said their plans for flights from Cork had already received widespread support from the Irish Government, aviation authorities, airports and travel groups.

“This new polling now reveals that the new flights also have broad public support, with passengers keen to benefit from affordable, direct new routes,” he said.

“As we await a final decision from the US authorities, this polling is a timely reminder that the views and needs of passengers should be put first.”

Niall MacCarthy, the managing director at Cork Airport, said the research reinforced their long-held view that there was a strong demand for the flights to start as soon as possible.

“Low-cost, transatlantic services from Cork will shake up the Irish marketplace and increase the choice, options, and competition for consumers on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “We’d urge the US authorities to make a positive announcement as soon as possible, so these historic services to Boston and New York can finally become a reality.”


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