Cork Chamber issued a rallying call to people last night to back the proposed Cork-Boston flights as US labour unions staged a protest rally at the White House.
Opponents to Norwegian Air International (NAI), the Dublin-based low-fares airline planning to launch the Boston service this year and a Cork to New York service next year, called on the Obama administration to block the issuing of a foreign carrier permit to NAI, claiming the airline’s business model will threaten thousands of American jobs.
They also called on congressmen to back proposed legislation which could block the permit.
The US Department of Transportation (DoT), which announced tentative approval for the licence in April, will stop accepting submissions next Monday, and issue a final decision on the licence soon afterwards.
Yesterday’s protest comes despite assurances from US President Barack Obama in March that there is no legal impediment to the granting of the licence.
The European Commission is also poised to trigger arbitration if the licence is blocked.
Cork Chamber, which is working with Cork Airport and other regional and national stakeholders to gather support for the flights on this side of the Atlantic, said hundreds of people, businesses and organisations have already logged on to the DoT’s website to formally back the granting of the foreign carrier permit to NAI.
The Chamber also co-ordinated a co-signed letter from leading Irish business, tourism, and political figures, to a group of influential US Congressmen, the Friends of Ireland Caucus, outlining key facts about NAI’s plans, and highlighting the benefits of its proposed transatlantic flights to both countries.
But the Chamber said it is important that people continue to lodge supportive submissions to the DoT.
In a message to members yesterday, it urged them to stress in their submissions that the proposed route is fully compliant with the spirit of the US-EU Open Skies Agreement, and the suggestion that Norwegian is offering substandard or unsafe working conditions is incorrect.
“NAI is headquartered in Dublin and Norwegian will be subject to Irish labour laws, which are among the strongest in world,” it said. “Ireland has one of the highest ranked civil aviation authorities in the world and an excellent safety record.”
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