Norwegian gets green light for low-cost transatlantic flights

Norwegian gets green light for low-cost transatlantic flights

Norwegian’s Irish offshoot has won a long-running bid to gain US rights to start budget transatlantic flights.

The airline now hopes authorities in the US will given the green light to enable its UK-based subsidiary to also expand operations from Britain.

Norwegian Air International, an Irish-registered company owned by the Norwegian Air Group, had originally planned a Cork to Boston service which it had hoped to start in May of this year, to be followed by flights to New York in 2017.

But the plans were put on hold pending the granting of a foreign carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation.

US airline lobbyists had opposed awarding the licence to Europe’s third largest low-cost airline, fearing that it would undermine US wages and working standards.

Irish prime minister Enda Kenny said the decision would “do for long haul travel what Ryanair have done for short haul travel”.

The US DoT described the case as “among the most novel and complex ever undertaken by the Department” adding that it had “taken the necessary amount of time to review and consider the comments from a wide range of stakeholders”.

Kenny said he had raised the issue when speaking with US president Barack Obama last March in the White House and that he was pleased to announce that approval had now been granted.

The carrier said: “This approval finally makes it possible for us to plan the Cork to the US routes we, and many others, have been looking forward to.

“We now also look forward to our foreign carrier permit for Norwegian Air UK (NUK) to be approved next.

“We would like to thank the many airports, airlines, industry and business groups, politicians and members of the public in Europe, the US, and Ireland in particular who have offered us their continued support over the last three years.

“While the delays Norwegian have faced have been unfortunate and unnecessary, ultimately the decision now made by the US DoT finally paves the way for greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Above all, it is a victory for millions of passengers who will benefit from more choice and lower fares. We now look forward to working on our plans for Norwegian’s continued expansion in the US, delivering the flights, jobs and economic boost we always promised we would.”

Norwegian serves an expanding network of cities in the US and Caribbean from Gatwick but wants permission for its UK arm to expand transatlantic operations and start other low cost long haul services.

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