Cork flies high on arrival of direct flights to US

5 Dec 2016

The landing of the Norwegian Air permit will bring more jobs to Cork. Image: Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

Cork’s digital economy is set to be supercharged by the news that Norwegian Air has been granted a permit for US-Ireland flights.

Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air has been granted approval by the US Department of Transportation (DoT), despite opposition from some American airlines and unions.

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

‘This will do for long-haul travel what Ryanair [has] done for short-haul travel’

The move will be a significant boost for investment in the Cork region, which already boasts a thriving tech scene, populated by giants like Apple and IBM and most recently, Oculus.

The region also has a formidable biotech scene with players like Eli, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson active in the region.

A huge economic boost for Cork

Up until now, despite a good-sized airport, there were no direct flights to Cork from the US and executives had to shuttle to either Shannon or Dublin.

Earlier this year, 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.

The news comes after successful lobbying and improved economic conditions saw Aer Lingus re-establish direct flights between Dublin and San Francisco.

Norwegian Air International is an Irish-registered company owned by the Norwegian Air Group.

It planned to launch a service between Cork and Boston in May of this year and a service to New York in 2017, but put those plans on ice pending the approval by US authorities.

The news comes amid a significant expansion in the US by Norwegian Air, which is projecting 150 new American pilot and cabin crew jobs in 2017, and the establishment of two new bases in the US.

“With DoT’s approval, we will finally be able to open up the US to Cork route, for instance, that we have all been waiting for,” said Bjørn Kjos, CEO and founder of the Norwegian Group.

“This is still the beginning of our US expansion plans and we are committed to offer American travellers more affordable long-haul flights than any other airline,” said Kjos.

The development was revealed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, during an event at the Irish Consulate in New York at the weekend.

“This will do for long-haul travel what Ryanair [has] done for short-haul travel,” he said.

Norwegian Air jet landing. Image: Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

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