Friday 02 December 2016
Minister Shane Ross T.D. has welcomed the decision today by the US Department for Transportation to grant an unconditional permit to Norwegian Air International to operate services between Ireland and the US. This decision means that the airline can start operating the new routes from Cork to the US that it announced last year and the other new transatlantic routes that it has planned.
“I am very pleased that a decision has been made and that NAI as an EU airline licenced by the Irish aviation authorities will finally be allowed to avail of the rights available to all EU airlines under the EU-US Open Skies Agreement. This is good news for consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, and I now look forward to NAI confirming its plans for the new services it announced last year. The launch of those services, bringing additional capacity and the direct transatlantic connectivity into the region, will be a boost for Cork Airport and for Cork business and tourism, and I am sure that the services will be well supported by the people in Cork and the wider catchment area”.
NAI applied for the permit almost three years ago, and the delay by the US Department for Transportation in granting the permit has been the subject of ongoing discussions between the Irish and US authorities. Since coming into office, Minister Ross has been actively engaged in pressing for a timely resolution of the matter. At his first public engagement as Minister, he addressed global aviation bosses at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM and expressed his frustration that NAI were unable to start their planned services from Cork. Speaking on the matter a number of times in Dáil Eireann, the Minister outlined his department’s continued engagement with the Irish Embassy in Washington and with the European Commission in their efforts to encourage the US to issue the permit. Earlier this year, Minister Ross wrote to the Secretary for Transportation, reiterating the Irish Government’s support for NAI and further urging the Secretary to bring the matter to a close and make a positive decision on NAI’s application.
The decision to grant the permit closely follows the formal launch by the European Commission of arbitration proceedings against the US under the terms of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement. Minister Ross thanked Commissioner Violeta Bulc for her resolute support for NAI and for the issue of the permit. Minister Ross said that “the type of innovative competition that NAI offers in the transatlantic market is exactly what the EU-US Open Skies Agreement was intended to encourage, and I am very pleased that the efforts and resolve demonstrated by Commissioner Bulc has now delivered a good result”.