Patrick O’Shea was one of the passengers on board Norwegian Air’s inaugural Cork to Providence flight on Saturday — the airport’s first direct scheduled service to the US.
Prof O’Shea has extensive contacts in the US, where he was vice-president and chief research officer at the University of Maryland before returning to Cork.
He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a University of Maryland distinguished scholar-teacher.
Speaking from the US last night, Prof O’Shea said: “As the first stop in America for our emigrants, New England has been the historic western hinterland our region. This new physical connection makes Cork their eastern suburb. The Boston/Providence area is home to several of the world’s great colleges and universities.
“When I meet university leaders there I will be telling them that Cork is now their most convenient European university city.”
Prof O’Shea hailed Cork’s first direct transatlantic air link and said its low price and ease of connection will be “hugely beneficial in enhancing existing and growing new scholarly and economic relationships for students and staff at institutions across our regions”.
“There will be more student and staff exchanges, more impactful research collaborations, which will broadly benefit the cultural and economic lives across our regions,” he said.
He said he believes the new service will be supported for three main reasons: Low fares, convenient flight times, and easy-to-use airports.
“Leaving Cork in late afternoon and arriving in early evening is just perfect,” said Prof O’Shea. “No more early-morning drives to/from Shannon or Dublin, or long transfers at Heathrow. Cork and Providence airports are very similar: Easy in, easy out — 10 minutes from front door to check-in and through security.”
Prof O’Shea said the lack of US pre-clearance in Cork is not an issue because there are no long queues at the friendly customs and immigration desks in Providence.
With the first inbound flight from Providence due to land at Cork Airport this morning, plans are being finalised for a Cork delegation to fly out on Thursday’s flight for a 24-hour blitz on their US counterparts.
The delegation, led by Cork Airport, will include minister of state Brendan Griffin, Cork Chamber, the Cork Business Association, representatives from the city and county councils, and local tour operators and travel agents.
Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said they plan to meet officials from the economic development unit of local government in Providence to finalise plans for their visit to Cork in September.