Low-fares aviation giant Norwegian hopes to launch the first transatlantic flights from Cork Airport in August — six months earlier than expected.
The airline’s chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, flagged the new date during a meeting in Brussels with Ireland South MEP and member of the EU transport committee, Deirdre Clune.
Pending formal approval from the US Department of Transportation, Mr Kjos said the airline’s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI), is targeting an August 1 launch date for its proposed Cork to Boston flights. The airline is also planning to launch a Cork to New York service next year.
The earlier launch date comes just weeks after a breakthrough in its stalled foreign carrier permit application.
The US Department of Transportation announced on April 15 that there was no legal impediment to the granting of a permit to NAI under the terms of the EU-US Open Skies deal.
The decision triggered a consultation process which is due to conclude on May 13.
Objections are expected from various parties, including US legacy airlines and various labour unions in the US and Europe, which had objected to the application.
But it is expected that formal approval will be forthcoming before the White House has a week to sign off on the decision.
It is understood that 60 days must pass before the flights can start but the White House can waive this period.
“Mr Kjos told me that the process of granting a licence will take time. But ultimately, he wants to begin flying from Cork to the US from August 1. The airline has also reaffirmed its commitment to fly from Shannon,” said Ms Clune, who has written to transport commissioner Violeta Bulc urging her for continued support for the airline’s plans.
NAI has insisted that it will only use Irish and EU-based crew on the transatlantic services.