Norwegian Air’s Irish subsidiary, which finally won approval to fly transatlantic flights from Ireland last Friday after a two-year battle, announced they will no longer be looking at Boston’s Logan Airport for their new direct service. Citing costs, the airline will instead fly from Cork, Shannon and Dublin to either Portsmouth International Airport in New Hampshire or T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI. They have also chosen Stewart International Airport near Newburgh as their New York state base.
The low-cost carrier explained they will be using Boeing 737s for their non-stop flights from Ireland, a single aisle aircraft that carries 150 fewer passengers than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that they will continue to use on other routes to Logan airport.
“To operate the Boeing 737s … from a primary airport becomes much more expensive with a small aircraft type than a larger aircraft type due to limited passenger numbers,” stated Norwegian spokesman Anders Lindstrom.
“These are the routes that will launch with $69 fares and have average return fares of $300 (to) $350, including taxes. In order to operate such flights profitably, they need to be served by medium-sized/smaller airports within the Greater Boston and NYC areas.”
The decision to award a foreign carrier permit to Norwegian Air International, based in Ireland, came late Friday two years after the airline had made their first license application. The US Department of Transport made a tentative decision last April granting the license, but push-back from American politicians and labor unions caused further delays. Last week, the European Commission officially began arbitration proceedings against the United States, believing the delay in granting the license to be in breach of the Open Skies Agreement, a US-EU treaty that allows EU-registered airlines to fly to the US from anywhere in Europe.
Norwegian Air initially submitted their application hoping to be the first to offer transatlantic flights from Cork Airport, a service they felt was greatly missing, and one that was welcomed by many in Ireland. Thanks to the delays in acquiring their license, Norwegian Air was beaten to the honors by Icelandic low-budget carrier Wow Air, which earlier this month announced flights from Cork to Reykjavik that would allow for further low-cost travel to the US. Norwegian Air will still be the first to offer a direct flight from Cork Airport to America.
The introduction of the airline’s new Cork routes could see has many as ten US and Canadian cities now connected to the Irish airport. As well as the two locations in New York State and New England established by Norwegian Air, Wow Air will serve eight US and Canadian cities from Cork via Reykjavik. These flights are expected to begin in the coming year with service between Cork and the eight North American cities priced at as little as $163.00 (€149.00) one way.
“In terms of Cork, recent polling carried out in Ireland and the Cork area specifically showed huge interest and support for the new routes to Boston and New York, so we are confident the routes will be popular and successful,” said a Norwegian spokesperson.
Norwegian Air International expect to establish their Ireland to New Hampshire/Rhode Island routes by summer 2017 and are expected to run from Cork, Shannon, and Dublin four times weekly. Bookings will be opened early in 2017, according to the airline.
At least 70 staff will be hired for the initial crew at the New England base. The outsourcing of staff to Asia was one of the main concerns of the politicians and unions who protested a foreign carrier permit being awarded to the airline. Norwegian Air has always denied claims it would outsource employees from elsewhere, accusing the unions of scaremongering.
Although travelers from Shannon and Dublin airports can go through US immigration pre clearance, the Irish Times reports that no plans are in place to introduce this at Cork Airport, meaning travelers must undergo immigration and customs clearance at their destination airport in the US.
Would you be happy to travel to a smaller airport to take advantage of transatlantic flights as cheap as these? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.