Low-cost, long-haul carrier Norwegian Air International (NAI) has announced a series of new transatlantic routes, despite the continued reluctance by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to grant it a license for Europe-US services.
NAI has announced plans to launch services from Cork, in the Irish Republic, to both Boston and New York. It also plans a new Cork-Barcelona route. The Boston and Barcelona routes—both amounting to four or five weekly rotations—have been penciled in for May 2016, with New York following in 2017.
The Boston and New York routes will be served initially by a Boeing 737-800, then by a 737 MAX when Norwegian starts to receive the new variant.
Plans for the new routes were confirmed Sept. 25 in a letter from Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos to Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
“We are delighted to offer a long-awaited service from the US to Cork and the southern parts of Ireland, which will create huge business, leisure and tourism opportunities,”Kjos predicted.
“This is only the beginning of our plans for new routes in Ireland, but our expansion relies on the US Department of Transportation finally approving Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign carrier permit. Only DOT approval for NAI will unlock the door for these exciting new routes, creating more competition, more choice and better fares for business and leisure passengers on both sides of the Atlantic.”
NAI has been awaiting a license from the DOT for a considerable period. US (and some European) airlines and unions have objected strongly to NAI’s proposed transatlantic service, accusing it of basing its long-haul operations in Ireland and using Asian crews to get around Norway’s strict labor laws. NAI denies the accusation.
A Norwegian spokesman in London told ATW there was no sign of any movement yet from DOT on the question of approvals, “but we hope that these new flights show our commitment to providing low-cost transatlantic services from Ireland.”