After a 56-year wait Cork gets US direct flight

After a 56-year wait Cork gets US direct flight
Bjorn Kjos CEO of Norwegian, announcing Norweigan's Direct Service from Cork to Boston this year.Picture: David Keane.

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has hailed “a great day for Cork” as the first ever transatlantic flight is set to take off from Cork Airport.

At 4.20pm today, the first flight to the US in the 56-year history of the airport will take to the skies, delivering its passengers to TF Green Airport in Rhode Island seven hours, ten minutes later.

It is the first of a new service which connects Cork to the greater New England area three times per week.

Hopes are high that the route will be the first of many for Cork, enhancing the region’s tourism and economic potential and allowing passengers here easy access to the US.

Welcoming the historic flight, Mr Varadkar said: “This is a great day for Cork Airport, Cork city and the wider region. I’m especially pleased as a former Minister for Transport.” 

He said he hopes the new connection will ensure long-term growth for Cork, both as an airport and as a region. “It means the airport continues to grow and will add significantly to the range of destinations now available from Cork,” he said.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos echoed this sentiment, noting a strong interest in the flights on both sides of the Atlantic.

He said: “We look forward to welcoming thousands of American travellers into Ireland over the coming weeks, ensuring our new routes also offer a huge boost to Irish tourism, business and hospitality.”

A spokesperson for Norwegian Air added that inbound and outbound flights are, on average, 90% full.

The new route marks the end of a long campaign for Cork Airport to secure transatlantic flights. Long deliberations took place with local, national and international politicians, with efforts escalating after a dispute with a US-based pilots’ union threatened to derail the process.

However, an intervention by the European Commission ensured the licence was granted to Norwegian, with the flights announced to much fanfare in February. Some 1,500 seats were booked within the first 24 hours, with interest remaining high ever since.

Kevin Cullinane, head of communications at Cork Airport, said: “It is no secret that securing a direct scheduled transatlantic service is something we have been working on for several years and I’m delighted we are now on the cusp of realising this ambition for our region. It will a remarkable day.”

Speaking from Boston, Des Cahill, the former Lord Mayor of Cork, said there is significant American interest in the connection.

He said: “There is a big Irish and, indeed, Cork diaspora here in Boston. Very many people have expressed their excitement at a flight connection to Cork and the flights being good value for money.”

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