The news came as Qatar Airways announced yesterday that it will operate a new direct daily service from Dublin to Doha, the capital of Qatar, from June 12 next, using a 787 Dreamliner.
Norwegian, whose Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, finally secured a foreign carrier permit from US authorities last weekend, said it has begun detailed planning to launch routes from Cork and Shannon airports to Boston and New York.
An announcement on flight schedules and fares is expected in early 2017. However, Norwegian said it is committed to making long-haul travel affordable and accessible to all.
Airline CEO, Bjorn Kjos, said the long-awaited services will create huge business, leisure, and tourism opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic: “Detailed planning work started immediately after having received the permit, with the first flights planned to take off next summer.
“I look forward to confirming full details in early 2017, but I can promise passengers that our flights from Cork and Shannon will be focussed on making transatlantic travel affordable for all, with low-cost fares and a high-quality service.”
The fares are expected to be in line with Norwegian’s prices on its existing routes from other European cities to Boston which are priced from just €160 one way , or €300 return. And with Norwegian taking delivery of new aircraft next year, the company said its fares from Ireland could be even lower.
It also confirmed that the routes will be operated by crew from two new bases it plans to establish in the US —a move expected to create at least 150 crew and pilot jobs — and that it is actively recruiting crew and pilots across Europe to match its fleet growth and route expansion plans.
Mr Kjos praised the support received from across Ireland during the airline’s long-running application with the US authorities over the last three years.
However, the decision by the US authorities to grant the NAI permit has been criticised by the Air Line Pilots Association of North America (ALPA). The ALPA president, Tim Canoll, said they are considering all options to reverse the decision which he described as “an affront to fair competition and will ultimately result in the loss of US jobs and, potentially significant losses for the US international aviation industry”.
Norwegian has repeatedly rejected claims that it established an Irish subsidiary to operate under a flag of convenience model in a bid to skirt labour laws.
News of the NAI permit breakthrough came just weeks after Icelandic airline, WOW, announced plans to fly from Cork to eight cities in North America, via a 90-minute stop-off in Reykjavik, from next May.