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Norwegian to axe Cork-US winter services due to ‘lower demand'

April 9th, 2018 2:25 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Celebrations all round last July when the first scheduled direct transatlantic flight took off from Cork Airport to Boston Providence, USA with Norwegian. Cork Airport's MD Niall MacCarthy, is pictured with Tore Jenssen, CEO of Norwegian Air International, at the high-profile launch.

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THERE has been widespread disappointment at the news that Norwegian Airlines is axing its winter service from Cork Airport to Boston Providence.

The decision, announced this week, means the flights, which were only introduced last July, will now be suspended from October through to March due to what the airline called ‘lower demand.’

A statement from Cork Airport confirmed that the Scandanavian airline will operate a ‘summer-only’ service to Boston Providence next year. 

However, a Norwegian spokesperson added the summer services were also demand-dependant, saying: ‘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. We therefore encourage consumers to take advantage of the affordable fares we offer. We will work to maintain these flights in the summer when demand is higher, and the route is more profitable.’

Kevin Cullinane, communications chief at Cork Airport, told The Southern Star the airline was still committed to Cork and that advance bookings for the summer routes were, ‘very strong’: ‘Norwegian still sees the potential at Cork and remains committed to making the Boston Providence route work. Naturally, some routes have more seasonality and due to lower passenger demand in the winter, the airline has decided to suspend flights  to Providence from Edinburgh, Shannon and Cork, during this quieter period.’

He added: ‘As with all routes, airlines closely monitor how the route performs and if there’s strong passenger demand, which can assure the airline maintain it as a viable, sustainable and economic route, it will continue. Consumers should continue to take advantage of the ultra-low-cost transatlantic fares that are on offer with Norwegian this year through to the end of October, and again from next March.’

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune called for the public to ‘get behind the service and support Cork Airport on this matter.’

‘I have been in touch with the airport and I know they are working to try and influence this,’ she added.

West Cork Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Hayes expressed his disappointment at the news.

‘There was a big push from all interested parties, including Cork County Council, to get the service off the ground, so to speak, last July. It was heralded as a game-changer for the airport and we all were looking forward to the expansion of transatlantic flights to New York,’ he told The Southern Star, adding that the reduction in the service was a big blow. 

‘It’s also a blow for the promotion of tourism in the region in the off-peak season. It’s now really important that people support the service during the March to October period to ensure the future viability of the route,’ he added.

As recently as February, Cork Airport reported that the success of the new routes from Cork to the USA with Norwegian Air had helped the airport record a 5% increase in passenger numbers in January, compared to the same period in 2017. And the Scandinavian airline was reported as saying it hoped ‘to launch new routes from Cork in the future’.

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