Irish groups back Cork-Boston flights in targeted offensive on key US politicians

Prominent supporters of the proposed Cork-US flights have launched a targeted offensive on key US politicians in a bid to secure the service.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, Fáilte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley, Cork Chamber head Conor Healy, and Chambers Ireland boss Ian Talbot are among a group of Irish business, civic, tourism, and political leaders who have co-signed a hard-hitting letter sent to the influential Friends of Ireland Caucus last night calling for its support for the service, just days ahead of a final decision being made on the licence.

Their letter sets out the facts of plans by Dublin-based airline Norwegian Air International (NAI) for the transatlantic service, and accuses NAI’s opponents of repeating claims which are “inaccurate, misleading, and simply not true”.

The letter states: “To our dismay, opponents of NAI have repeatedly and maliciously impugned Ireland’s aviation safety oversight, regulatory structures, and labour protections, and labelled Ireland as a mere ‘flag of convenience’.

“This is deeply inaccurate, misleading, and simply not true. The opponents have also misinterpreted provisions of the US-EU Open Skies agreement in a way that directly contradicts the joint and carefully considered views of the [US] departments of transportation, state, and justice.”

It asks the Friends of Ireland to help stop “these allegations from being further perpetuated” and to support the granting of the licence.

The US department of transportation will make a final decision soon after its consultation process closes on Monday.

Opponents, including US labour unions, legacy airlines, and pilot unions in the US and EU, have ramped up their campaign to block the permit.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has warned the granting of a licence to NAI could threaten thousands of US jobs. Four Congressmen have sponsored a bill to block NAI access to the US.

The letter was sent last night ahead of a protest outside the White House today in support of the congressmen’s legislation.

The European Commission said it is poised to engage in arbitration if there are any more attempts to block the licence.

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