The options for direct, affordable travel between the US and Ireland keep getting better and better.
Yesterday, the US Department of Transport gave tentative approval to Norwegian Air’s application for a foreign carrier permit, which will allow it to begin offering international service to the US, including the first-ever direct route between Boston and Cork.
“A final approval, based on the Open Skies Agreement between the U.S. and EU, will be win-win for consumers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow Norwegian to expand our U.S. operations. Our continued presence in the U.S. will create thousands of jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for the Group’s U.S. destinations,” Norwegian Group CEO Bjørn Kjos said in a statement.
It also noted that, despite accusations that the Norwegian carrier license would not create any US jobs, "Norwegian intends to continue hiring hundreds of American-based crewmembers, bring hundreds of thousands of European tourists to the United States, continue to offer the American people affordable fares and efficiently utilize an $18.5 billion order of planes from American manufacturer Boeing."
Norwegian Air’s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, applied two years ago for its US foreign carrier permit, but faced significant protest from American aviation bodies.
But, as the Irish Independent reported, months of negotiations and input from Irish and EU officials led to yesterday’s breakthrough.
The application will be open to motions of support and opposition from relevant parties for 21 days, after which time the DOT will have seven days to review all materials and issue its final decision.
The airline had initially planned to roll out flights on the Boston – Cork route next month, but the launch has been set back by the drawn out application process. If the approval is granted in 28 days as expected, the flights will be slated to begin this summer.
“We are heartened by the decision of the US Department of Transportation to announce that there is no legal reason not to award Norwegian Air International a license to commence its Cork – Boston route. Today marks a step change in this process and brings us even closer to a significant milestone in the airport’s history,” said Niall McCarthy, Cork Airport’s managing director.
“This is absolutely fantastic news for the airport, the airline and the region. We have worked so hard to make this happen over many months in both Washington and locally.”
The news was also greeted enthusiastically by Shannon Airport, which has also been in talks with Norwegian Air for a route deal pending US approval.
“The decision by the US authorities to give preliminary approval for permits for Norwegian International Airlines Limited brings us one step closer to Shannon having a new carrier on its runway. We now have to wait for a 21 period for final submissions on this matter, with a decision to follow shortly after this,” said a Shannon Airport spokesperson.
“Having commenced discussions with the airline in 2014 and subsequently agreed a deal pending permit approval, we are hopeful of a positive outcome to this application and realizing a really excellent opportunity for Shannon to strengthen its transatlantic operations.”
Read more: $300 round-trip to Ireland cheapest ever offered says Norwegian Air
Would you be excited about Norwegian’s Boston to Cork route and additional flights from the US into Shannon? Share your thoughts in the comment section.