Cork politicians continue to demand answers as to why the route between Cork and the US was reduced only months after starting and the CEO of Norwegian is to be invited before the Oireachtas Transport Committee.
There was widespread disappointment when it was announced in April that the twice-weekly flights between Cork and Providence, Rhode Island were reducing from a year-round to summer-only service, with effect from later in 2018. The flights, the first transatlantic service from Cork, began to much fanfare in July.
Cork Fine Gael Jerry Buttimer asked the transport committee to invite both Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos and the CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority to appear before them.
“I am happy that the Committee has agreed to my request that the CEOs before the Committee to defend the decision to cut routes from Cork and also to outline how the Dublin Airport Authority are going to make sure Cork Airport is allowed to continue to grow,” Mr Buttimer said.
Norwegian would not confirm if their CEO planned to attend but a spokesperson told the Evening Echo they remain committed to the Irish market.
“With a series of transatlantic routes launched from Ireland last year and plans for continued future expansion, we see huge potential due to strong demand for affordable travel on both sides of the Atlantic.
However they also said the Cork route was dependent on demand.
“Naturally some routes have more seasonality and due to lower passenger demand in the winter, we’ve decided to suspend flights from Cork to Providence during this quieter period,” they said.
“As with other services, we are monitoring how the route performs this summer. If there’s strong passenger demand as we anticipate, the services will likely return as a seasonal route next summer.”
MEP Deirdre Clune has written to Mr Kjos, to appeal to the airline to reconsider the recent suspension of the services for winter 2018.
“While I understand that airlines must make commercial decisions, I am actively reminding Norwegian Airlines, that the US strongly resisted the granting of the licence and yet it was through massive political and business support in the Munster region that supported the award of the licence, on the basis of a year-round flight transatlantic flights from Cork, as headlined by the airline,” she said.