‘Renewed push on Cork to US flights needed’

By Pádraig Hoare

A renewed push on both sides of the Atlantic is needed to promote Cork flights to and from Rhode Island if the region is to compete with Dublin’s dominance in the transatlantic sector, according to business and political figures.

Norwegian has announced an extra 66,000 seats in an aim to capitalise on the appetite among shoppers to take one-day return trips from Dublin to New York.

Shoppers are heading from Dublin to Stewart International Airport in New York in the morning in order to spend the day at nearby tax-free shopping outlets such as Woodbury Common, before flying back home that evening.

Norwegian said it would double the amount of flights on its Dublin-New York schedule to fly twice a day from next month.

A new shuttle service to Woodbury Common will be put on for passengers arriving on the new morning flight from Dublin. From March 24, shuttle buses departing Woodbury Common will be timed for passengers to arrive at the airport three hours before Norwegian’s evening flight departures.

Despite Norwegian promoting the one-day shopping experience and doubling its flights, there was no mention from the airline of extra flights from Cork.

It is believed that although the flights from Cork to Rhode Island have performed well since the historic first flight in July, more passengers are needed both outbound and inbound to convince Norwegian that an all-year service from Cork to New York would be commercially viable.

Some flights from Cork to and from TF Green Airport in Rhode Island have not been full, especially in the winter months, prompting calls from business leaders to up the efforts to promote the route in Munster and New England.

Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer said a one-day shopping experience from Cork to Rhode Island using nearby outlet malls such as Wrentham Village should also be promoted.

“Wrentham Village in Massachusetts in just 30 minutes away from TF Green Airport in Rhode Island. The one-day shopping experience should also be an incentive for flyers from Cork, as well as the fact that Boston is nearby,” he said.

“Even though the push to market Cork in New England was good initially, we need to be doing it consistently and continuously. We have to show more Americans that Cork is an alternative to Dublin. That means a renewed push from tourism bodies, along with all stakeholders in the city and county, from local authorities to public representatives to business groups and Cork Airport, to really push these transatlantic flights from Cork once more.

“We need the people of Munster to support the flights, especially in the winter months. Simultaneously we need the passengers from New England. If we can show Norwegian that there is an all-year market for transatlantic flights from Cork, then it will surely look at the New York route.”

Cork Business Association president Philip Gillivan said sustained marketing is needed to stay in the minds of potential business and tourists. “We are a new route — this is not a quick marketing approach but a long sustained one. Cork is the start of the Wild Atlantic Way so it makes sense to fly here. We are the food capital of Ireland. We can’t compete with Dublin in certain areas but we can compete promoting our smaller airport, Wild Atlantic Way, food, et cetera.”

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