A TD has called on the DAA to come clean about its support for Norwegian’s new low-fares transatlantic services out of Ireland amid concerns about the future of its proposed Cork to New York route,
Labour’s Alan Kelly spoke out after the airline said Cork’s main runway may be too short to operate a New York service despite consistently highlighting plans for the route during its lengthy campaign for a US licence.
After first raising the runway concerns in February, Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos confirmed on Friday that Cork’s runway 17 is too short to accommodate the take-off of a fully laden New York-bound Boeing 737MAX aircraft.
Norwegian will use the new MAX aircraft on its Cork to Providence (Boston) route from July.
Mr Kjos said its calculations show the runway is too short for a MAX aircraft to take off for New York’s Stewart Airport a further 250km south of Providence.
A spokesman for the airline said the door remains open to a Cork-New York route once it takes delivery of the new MAX aircraft this summer and learns more of its operational capabilities.
Mr Kelly said he is now convinced that Cork Airport was used as a Trojan horse in order to get Norwegian’s air services into Ireland — and principally into Dublin.
“Why was Cork the designated airport being used to promote the benefit of these services when the planes owned by the airline couldn’t even make the journey in the first place?” he said.
“We have a new spatial strategy coming up for consideration where greater regionalisation of services is going to be critical to future growth of our country. Yet we have this sort of behaviour and the DAA are central to it.
“The DAA needs to come clean on this and such behaviour needs to be arrested if any spatial strategy worthwhile is to be generated.”
A DAA spokesman said it has a statutory responsibility to grow traffic at its airports for the benefit of the Irish economy.
He said: “Cork Airport’s new route to Boston Providence will begin this July. Like any airline, Norwegian makes its own decisions about where it wants to place its aircraft and which routes it will operate.”