Big boost for Cork as direct flights from US could be about to land

5 May 2016

Direct flights linking Cork Airport to US may be about to land, fueling the ambitions of Cork's thriving tech and pharma sectors

Cork’s tech industry – one of the jewels in Ireland’s digital crown – may be about to receive a welcome boost, with direct fights to the US coming to Cork Airport for the first time.

A new route connecting Cork with Boston has been proposed and one to New York may follow.

An application by Norwegian Airlines International (NAI) to establish direct flights is currently being reviewed by the US Department of Transport.

Cork’s thriving tech industry boasts companies such as Apple, which came to the city in the early 1980s, as well as giants like EMC and IBM, as well as one of the biggest concentrations of pharma companies in Europe, which includes players like Eli, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

The region also boasts a globally-oriented native start-up sector that includes successful companies like Trustev and Teamwork, to name a few.

However, despite the regular footfall of some of the most powerful leaders in these industries, recently including Apple CEO Tim Cook, there are no direct flights and executives shuttle to either Shannon or Dublin from the US.

But proposed new routes operated by Norwegian Air International connecting the airport directly with the US are being reviewed by the US Department of Transportation.

An initial direct flight between Cork and Boston is proposed and this may soon be followed by another direct flight linking the city with New York.

Cork businesses urged to lobby hard for direct US flights

The application with the US Department of Transport has attracted both support and opposition from various parties.

Opponents include pilots’ unions, which argue that the application to route flights to Cork is an effort to lower wages and working conditions of Norwegian aircrew.

Cork Chamber of Commerce issued a request to firms in the Cork region to get behind efforts to have the new routes opened to Cork and make their voices heard.

Successful lobbying and changing economic conditions saw Aer Lingus in recent years re-establish direct flights between Dublin and San Francisco and it has emerged in recent days that a direct flight to LA may be re-established.

If direct flights connecting Cork with the US are established it will provide greater impetus to the digital ambitions of the Cork region.

Cork Airport image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years