An Icelandic low-fares airline has swooped in ahead of a competitor to offer cheap transatlantic flights from Cork Airport, via Iceland, to North America.
WOW air began selling tickets yesterday for its new year-round service from Cork to Reykjavik, starting on May 19 next, with fares from €59.99 each way including taxes and charges.
The airline will use Airbus A320 aircraft to operate four flights a week — Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday — during the summer season, and three weekly services during the winter season, adding an additional 66,000 seats available from Cork Airport next year.
However, the service will give passengers flying from Cork the option of connecting directly from WOW’s base at Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport to Boston, Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Montreal, and Toronto, with one-way fares from €149.
The news comes as low-cost operator Norwegian Air International (NAI), which announced plans last year to launch direct transatlantic flights from Cork to Boston and New York, still awaits a decision from the US authorities on its foreign carrier permit.
A spokesman for Norwegian welcomed WOW’s arrival at Cork Airport.
“Norwegian fully believes in healthy competition among airlines as the best way to improve the quality, cost, and choice available to all passengers. We remain fully committed to launching our own direct transatlantic routes from Cork as soon as we’re able to,” he said.
Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said they were delighted with the WOW announcement, but remain committed to securing the NAI routes and delivering a second low-cost transatlantic carrier for its passengers.
WOW air chief executive Skúli Mogensen said the airline is looking forward to developing its service out of Cork. “As a significant business and leisure hub in Ireland, we have ambitious targets for our Cork services and we look forward to working with Niall and his team to develop these exciting new routes,” he said.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said it is looking forward to co-operating with WOW air, Cork Airport, and other tourism partners to maximise the new service.
Cork Chamber praised the airport management team for securing the new route, and the connectivity to North America that it will provide.
“Not only will this service provide affordable leisure tourism opportunities between the southern region and Iceland, the route also serves Munster with direct, low-cost connectivity to North America which has long been a strategic ambition for Cork,” said chamber chief executive Conor Healy.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy said the increased connectivity to the US will provide a great opportunity for the IDA to further market Cork to US companies as an alternative to Dublin for investment.
Iceland, famous for the Northern Lights, its hot springs, volcanic landscape, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir national park, has become a hugely popular tourist destination and has regularly featured in travel publications’ top 10 lists.
Founded in November 2011 by Mr Mogensen, WOW launched a Dublin-Reykjavik service in 2015 and operates seven flights a week from the capital.
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