Low-cost carrier Norwegian says it will cease flying between Ireland and North America from 15 September, partially due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.
The airline is in the midst of a project to return to profitability following a period of growth and said the routes are “no longer commercially viable” considering the 737 Max aircraft remains grounded following two fatal crashes.
The airline had already threatened to bill Boeing for any costs incurred by the aircraft’s grounding – costs which could put a huge amount of pressure on the carrier after it posted a loss of nearly £133 million for the first quarter of the year.
Co-founder Bjorn Kjos stepped down as CEO of Norwegian last month, with deputy chief executive Geir Karlsen temporarily filling the role until a replacement is found.
Commenting on the decision to cut transatlantic routes, Matthew Wood, SVP of long-haul commercial at Norwegian, said: “We take a strict approach to route management and constantly evaluate route performance to ensure we meet customer demand. Compounded by the global grounding of the 737 Max and the continued uncertainty of its return to service, this has led us to make the decision to discontinue all six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from 15 September 2019.”
Wood said passengers booked onto the Ireland flights after 15 September will be offered the choice of rerouting onto other Norwegian services or requesting a full refund.
He added the airline will continue flying from Dublin to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen as normal.
“We are proactively engaging with our pilots and cabin crew at our Dublin base, including their respective unions, to ensure that redundancies remain a last resort,” Wood explained. “Our 80 Dublin-based administrative staff at Norwegian Air International and Norwegian Group’s asset company, Arctic Aviation Assets, will not be affected by the route closures.
“We would like to thank Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports in addition to New York Stewart, Providence and Hamilton airports, tourism partners and our colleagues and customers for supporting Norwegian’s transatlantic expansion from Ireland since 2017.”
Norwegian is the second carrier to announce major operational changes because of problems with the 737 Max. Last month, Ryanair said it would have to make up to 900 job cuts and potentially close bases due to a delay in deliveries of the troubled aircraft.