As Cork Airport awaits news on when it can commence its first scheduled transatlantic service, it has emerged that management at Shannon have also struck a deal with the same airline.
As reported by The Clare Herald last week, there had been speculation that Shannon had also reached agreement with Norwegian Air International, the Irish based subsidiary of Norwegian Air.
It had been hoped that the airline would begin flying to Boston from Cork in May however, these plans have been grounded while a decision is awaited from the US department of transportation (DoT) on a foreign carrier licence application.
While the airline has expressed confidence that it could commence services later in the summer, the future of the flights is dependent on the outcome of that application process.
US authorities have said: “The application involves novel and complex issues, and we are taking the necessary time to evaluate the long-term application appropriately.”
It was last September that the Nordic carrier confirmed plans to operate 4 times weekly between Cork and Boston.
While there has been much media coverage of the delays affecting Cork Airports plans from transatlantic services, news that Shannon has already struck a deal with the same airline only emerged last week in the US.
Shannon holds a more attractive advantage over Cork Airport because passengers can avail of US Custom and Border Protection pre-clearance.
The facility at Shannon was first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to offer full pre-clearance to passengers travelling to the US.
When pre-cleared, travellers arrive in the states as domestic passengers without having to go through often lengthy security checks at their destination.
A Shannon Airport spokesman said: “We have a deal in place with Norwegian Airlines, having commenced discussions with them in 2014. This is dependent on licencing from the US authorities and we are supporting the airline in this through our network in the US and here in Ireland.
This is an important opportunity for us and we look forward to having this new carrier at Shannon and growing passenger numbers and services here as a result,” the spokesman said.
If Norwegian is cleared to commenced services from Shannon to Boston, the carrier will compete for seats with Aer Lingus which already operates a year round service.
In 2013, Norwegian confirmed plans to establish Norwegian Air International (NAI) which it has based in Dublin. This was because Norway’s strict rules and regulations prevented it from competing against other carriers with fewer limitations.
Around 30 of Norwegian’s fleet of aircraft are also registered in Ireland.