Ryanair has backed a low-fares rival’s plans to launch the first transatlantic flights from Cork Airport, as opposition to the service mounts.
Europe’s largest airline said plans by Norwegian Air International (NAI), which are being vigorously opposed by US labour unions and traditional ‘legacy’ airlines, will result in increased competition and customer choice, a better service, and lower fares for American and European consumers.
The comments are made in Ryanair’s submission to the US Department of Transportation (DoT) as part of its final consultation process triggered by its tentative decision to approve NAI’s application for a foreign carrier permit to operate a Cork to Boston service this year, and a Cork-New York route next year.
Aviation sources described Ryanair’s intervention as “hugely significant”.
Ryanair’s chief legal and regulatory officer, Juliusz Komorek, said they are “alarmed” at an attempt by four US congressmen to introduce legislation to block the new service.
He described it as an “ill-advised attempt to protect the incumbent airlines on the transatlantic market at the expense of consumers.”
Ryanair is one of several heavy-hitters who have now lodged submissions in favour of the proposed route ahead of a protest by American unions at the White House on Thursday in support of a new law which could block the service.
NAI, the Dublin-based subsidiary of low-fares giant, Norwegian, has been waiting more than two years for the DoT permit.
After an exhaustive examination of its application, the DoT ruled in April that the airline meets the criteria under the EU-US Open Skies agreement to operate transatlantic flights.
US president Barack Obama has also said there is no legal impediment to the granting of the permit. But four congressmen have introduced legislation in a bid to change the law, which if successful, could block the issuing of the licence.
The European Commission said it is poised to engage in arbitration if there are any more attempts to block the issuing of the licence. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said the DoT’s decision to tentatively approve NAI’s permit is “bad news for US airline workers”.
“NAI is registered in Ireland and will employ flight crews under Singaporean or Thai employment contracts and evade the employment and tax laws of Norway where its parent company is based,” it claimed.
“This ‘race to the bottom’ business plan is a clear violation of the US-EU Open Skies Agreement, which has a specific provision that states that the ‘opportunities created by the agreement are not intended to undermine labour standards or the labour-related rights and principles contained in the parties’ respective laws’.
“NAI’s plan to scour the globe for cheap labour is a blatant violation of the labour provisions in the agreement.
“NAI’s plans have always been about gaming trade rules, gaining an unfair competitive advantage, and beating down workers’ rights, wages, and benefits.”
NAI has rejected claims it will hire foreign workers and employ them on low wages.
The DoT consultation process ends on May 16, with a final decision on the permit due soon afterwards.
Cork Airport was announced as the first quarterly winner of the Cork Business Association’s Cork Business of the Year Award. It will now go forward to compete for the overall title in January 2017.
Managing director of Cork Airport Niall MacCarthy said it was an honour to receive the award, and to be recognised by the business community.
“Promoting the region and Cork as the gateway to the south of Ireland is at the heart of what we do,” he said.
“We are continuously working to build on this, introducing new routes and serving even more passengers.”
Mr MacCarthy’s comments came as the airport launched its latest route from Cork to Düsseldorf, Germany. The new flights, operated by Aer Lingus, will run twice weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Pat O'Connell, President CBA speaking at Cork Airport when the association's First Quarter 2016 business award was presented to Cork Airport. Photo Billy macGill.
Pat O'Connell President CBA presenting the First Quarter 2016 business award to Niall McCarthy MD Cork Airport. Also included are Cllr. John Paul O'Shea Mayor of Cork County, Cllr. Chris O'Leary Lord Mayor of Cork, James O'Sullivan Chairman of the Awards Committee and Lawrence Owens CEO, CBA. Photo Billy macGill.
Pat O'Connell President CBA presenting the First Quarter 2016 business award to Niall McCarthy MD Cork Airport in the presence of Cork Airport and Aer Lingus staff members. Photo Billy macGill.
A new strategy has been launched to make Cork city a better place in which to grow old. And one of its key recommendations is already in the running for a national award.
A seniors’ text alert scheme devised by the Ballyphehane Togher Community Development Programme has been shortlisted for the national Age Friendly Achievement Awards later this month.
Businesses have now been urged to do more to help older customers, plans are in place to increase physical activity and volunteerism from middle age, and a directory of services for older people will be prepared as part of the new plan to make Cork an age-friendly city. The details were unveiled yesterday at the launch of the Cork Age Friendly City Strategy 2016-2020 in City Hall.
City Council chief executive Ann Doherty, who chairs the Cork Age Friendly City Alliance, a group comprised of senior management from statutory, voluntary, community and private sectors including the CBA, said a 40-page document was the result of extensive consultation which included a public call for suggestions which was attended by 500 people in November 2013.
The World Health Organisation has defined an age-friendly city as a place where more older people can stay living in their own homes and communities, lead healthy and active lives, get to where they want to go, when they want to go, and are valued contributors to the lives of their communities.
The Cork strategy has identified three key areas for particular focus — community support and health services; transportation, and communication and information.
It also sets out to improve access to various services for older people, to ensure all agency staff will deal with older people in an age-appropriate manner, and to promote age-friendly business programmes.
More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the Cork Midsummer Festival, which features a diverse range of events from opera to comedy.
In excess of 400 artists will take part in 39 events during the festival, which runs from June 17-26 and which features new venues such as the Bells of Shandon, Cork Boat Club, and Elizabeth Fort.
This year’s festival programme was launched last night at the River Lee Hotel. It includes 18 new works and is a fusion of opera, literature, theatre, dance, comedy, music, and visual arts. Family events, forums, talks, and a wide choice of free events will also take place.
In salute to the 100th anniversary commemoration of The Rising, Corcadorca is to stage Sacrifice at Easter at Barrack St’s Elizabeth Fort from June 17 to July 2.
Meanwhile, Utopia Ltd, an off-site collaborative theatre performance inspired by the biography of Roger Casement, will run from June 17-19 at Cork Boat Club.
Choreographer Ruairí Donovan will stage Soldiers, a walking performance inspired by the mobilisation of 1,000 volunteers by Tomás Mac Curtain for the Rising.
Festival artistic curator Kath Gorman said they are thrilled to once again collaborate with the city’s arts organisations “to present such a dynamic programme, bursting with the work of so many excellent artists from all over the world.”
Festival favourite ‘Picnic in the Park’ will return to Fitzgerald Park on June 19. The popular Our Table also makes a welcome return. Sponsored by BAM Ireland, Ballymaloe, Cully & Sully, and Tiger Beer, the outdoor banquet for 400 food lovers, spanning the length of Oliver Plunkett St, will see 12 of Cork’s finest restaurants joining forces on June 26.
One of the most unique events this year is ‘Be My Guest’, with Shandon residents selecting pieces from the Art Council’s permanent collection to hang in their living rooms, which will be open to the public to view.
The festival is supported by the Arts Council, Cork City Council, Fáilte Ireland and media partners the Irish Examiner.
For details and tickets see www.corkmidsummer.com.