Foreign affairs minister welcomes new transatlantic travel route

The US Department of Transport has granted a permit to Norwegian Air International to operate flights between Ireland and the US

Foreign affairs minister welcomes new transatlantic travel route

photo. Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP/Press Association Images

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has welcomed the announcement of a new low-cost transatlantic flight service between Ireland and the US.

Last night, the US Department of Transport granted a permit to Norwegian Air International (NAI) to operate flights between Cork and Boston.

A number of American airlines and unions had opposed the granting of the licence over fears the low-cost operator will undermine wages and working standards for US workers.

Norwegian Air - Europe’s third largest budget carrier - had hoped to begin the service in May of this year however those plans were put on hold pending the approval of the licence.

Foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan said the government strongly supports the new option for travellers.

“This new route will strengthen Ireland’s links with Boston and New England, and represents a further significant boost to Cork Airport and the southern region.  I look forward to NAI flights commencing between Cork and Boston at an early date,” he said.

Speaking at an event in the Irish Consulate in New York last night, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the decision could “do for long-haul travel what Ryanair has done for short-haul travel.”

In a statement, Norwegian Airlines called the delays “unfortunate and unnecessary” and said the new routes will pave the way for “greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

"Above all, it is a victory for millions of passengers who will benefit from more choice and lower fares,” reads the statement.

“We now look forward to working on our plans for Norwegian's continued expansion in the US, delivering the flights, jobs and economic boost we always promised we would.”

The decision to grant the licence followed an intervention from the European Commission after the airline's request had not received a decision in three years.

The move is likely to cause prices across a range of airlines to drop as competition increases.

Eamonn Brennan, CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority said the news is a “very welcome development.”

“This decision will help NAI to open up the Trans-Atlantic to more consumers from more regions,” he said.

“We're looking forward to seeing NAI finally have the chance to compete on the Trans-Atlantic and commence their operations from Ireland in the future.”