Transport Minister Shane Ross has called for the Taoiseach to make clear Ireland’s “dissatisfaction” with the US blockage of the air route between Cork and North America with US vice president Joe Biden.
The continued decision to delay the proposed air route has been described by Mr Ross as “puzzling”.
He said that while he is not meeting Mr Biden himself, he feels “an early decision to clear this blockage” should be sought by Mr Kenny this week.
Fine Gael Seanad leader, Jerry Buttimer, questioned Mr Ross yesterday in the Seanad over the delay in securing a North Atlantic route connecting Cork and the US.
Mr Buttimer claimed that the lack of movement on the issue is coming from an impasse on the US side.
The Cork-based senator said he hopes government officials will bring up the issue with Mr Biden during his six-day visit to Ireland.
He expressed his wish that “members of the Government will impress upon him the importance and centrality of this new route from Cork in promoting our country in North America”.
Last April, the US Department of Transportation granted a permit to Norwegian Air International to fly from Cork to the US, but the tentative decision has yet to be finalised and signed off on by Washington.
Mr Ross stated the delay is “clearly not in the interest of the many people on both sides of the Atlantic who had intended to avail of the new service.” He added he looks forward to the decision being confirmed “as soon as possible, so the airline can start operating the new route from Cork to Boston and other new transatlantic routes”.
The European Commission is also eager to see the Cork-US route go forward and has stated it would have the right to launch an arbitration process if the backlog continues, he said.
The blockage would fall under the remit of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, Mr Ross told the Upper House.
The agreement allows for European airlines to operate flights from the EU to the US, and US airlines to run flights within the EU.
The European Commission supports the Norwegian airline securing a permit to fly from Cork, to ensure a more competitive transatlantic aviation market.
Mr Ross said he will try to push for a final decision on the matter: “I and the department will continue to liaise closely with the Irish embassy in Washington, the Irish Aviation Authority, and the European Commission, and we will continue to take the appropriate steps to help secure this important new service for Cork.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved