Enda Kenny to raise issue of Cork-US flights with Barack Obama

Taoiseach Enda Kenny plans to raise the stalled Cork-US flights saga with President Barack Obama again.

Mr Kenny was responding to questions from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, and Cork TDs Mick Barry and Jim Daly in the Dáil over the delay by the US Department of Transportation (DoT) in making a final decision on Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign carrier permit.

The DoT issued tentative approval in April for Dublin-based NAI’s licence, which would allow it to operate Cork to Boston flights under the terms of the EU-US Open Skies deal. The Irish subsidiary of low-fares giant Norwegian also plans to launch a Cork New York service.

But the services can’t start until the DoT sanctions its permit — an application which is facing strong opposition from labour unions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Daly, who urged the Taoiseach to make further contact with Mr Obama on the issue, said: “All the obstacles have now been cleared and it is purely a political matter on the American side.”

Mr Kenny, who raised the issue with Mr Obama during his St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House, said he raised it again with vice-President Joe Biden in Government Buildings on June 21 during his visit to Ireland.

“I emphasised to the vice-president that we look forward to this decision being confirmed as soon as possible, so that Norwegian Air can launch new services between the US and Ireland, including a route from Cork,” said Mr Kenny.

“The vice-president expressed his hope that the issue could be resolved as soon as possible.”

Mr Kenny said Mr Biden promised to report back to Mr Obama on Irish concerns at the delay, and that he is happy to follow up with the President in due course.

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