The Taoiseach plans to discuss the stalled Cork transatlantic fights issue with US President Barack Obama in the White House this week.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney confirmed last night that Enda Kenny has added the flights issue to a list of priority topics he plans to raise with Mr Obama during the annual St Patrick’s Day festivities.
Mr Kenny is expected to express directly to Mr Obama his concerns at the unprecedented two-year delay by the US Department of Transportation (DoT) in making a decision on Norwegian Air International’s application for a licence to operate a Cork to Boston route as is provided for by the EU-US Open Skies agreement.
The discussion will mark the culmination of an intense round of diplomatic lobbying in both Boston and Washington in recent days involving Irish aviation figures, Cork Airport management, and Cork Chamber officials, all aimed at making the proposed Cork-US flights a key topic at a range of St Patrick’s Day events in the US capital.
It has fuelled hopes that a breakthrough is imminent.
The European Commission has ramped up diplomatic pressure on the US in a bid to break the impasse.
NAI, the Irish subsidiary of low-cost European aviation giant, Norwegian, has already been forced to postpone the proposed May launch of the Cork to Boston service because of the ongoing delay by the US authorities in granting it a foreign carrier permit.
The delay has also forced the postponement of NAI’s proposed Cork to Barcelona service, and is threatening its plans to launch a Cork to New York service next year.
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