BY SIOBHÁN CRONIN
THE European Commission is seeking to hold arbitration talks over the delay in issuing a permit for planned Cork to Boston and New York flights by airline Norwegian.
The European Commission believes the delay by the US authorities in granting the permit is a breach of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement, a Department of Transport official told The Southern Star.
The Commission has now stated it will initiate arbitration under the Agreement in a bid to get the flights from Cork Airport off the ground – they are due to commence this summer.
In response, election candidate Cllr Alan Coleman said that while he welcomed the news, ‘this is far from a result’.
‘This process will take time and the Cork region will likely miss out unnecessarily on a tourism season due to a lack of co-operation from the US authorities,’ he said.
And he called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to begin lobbying for the flights. ‘Our Taoiseach needs to act now and call the White House,’ he said.
‘The ‘elephant in the room’ for people across Co Cork is Cork Airport, and what the Government are doing – or failing to do – to give it a realistic chance of competing with Dublin, and bring much-needed visitors into the south,’ he said.
West Cork businessman John Hosford has written to the Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh, seeking his assistance with the issue.
Several requests, made by The Southern Star, seeking a comment from the Mayor’s office, have so far met with little response.
Mayor Walsh is the son of Irish parents.
Meanwhile, MEP Deirdre Clune has welcomed a commitment by the Department of Transport and Tourism to restore overseas tourism marketing funds to pre-recession levels.
Speaking after attending Ireland’s Incoming Tour Operators Association AGM dinner in Cork, Ireland South MEP and member of the EU Tourism Taskforce, Ms Clune said that Cork Airport can now benefit from increased tourism marketing.
The commitment on increased marketing funds was given last week as Minister Paschal Donohoe launched a Tourism Action Plan for the period 2016-2018.
The Plan contains 23 actions which will be carried out in order to help achieve the overall policy objectives in the Government’s tourism policy statement: People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025.
Ms Clune said airports like Cork must benefit from these new marketing funds, and said that she will be fighting to ensure that it does.