Airports in Ireland have responded with “disappointment” to the news that Norwegian is to discontinue its transatlantic routes, originally operated by the Boeing 737 MAX between North America and Ireland, as the airline considers the routes as no longer “commercially viable” amid the grounding of the aircraft type.

The low-cost airline will end all six of the transatlantic routes originally operated by the 737 MAX aircraft between the US and Canada, and Dublin, Cork and Shannon in Ireland in September, “following months of substitute aircraft and wetlease operations covering the airline’s routes due to the global grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft.”

Matthew Robert Wood, senior vice-president Commercial Long-Haul and New Markets, Norwegian, said that though the airline has sought to mimise the impact of the grounding by wetleasing replacement aircraft to operate the services between North America and Ireland, “as the return to service date for the 737 MAX remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable.”

He explained that following a review of the airline’s transatlantic operations between North America and Ireland, it has concluded “that these routes are no longer commercially viable considering the circumstances.”

“Compounded by the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and the continued uncertainty of its return to service, this has led us to make the difficult decision to discontinue all six routes from US and Canada to Dublin, Cork and Shannon from September 16,” he continued.

Responding to the announcement, Mary Considine, acting CEO of Shannon Group said the airport was “disappointed” but acknowledged that the grounding of the 737 MAX “had a major impact on this decision.”

Considine added that: “Shannon was, among Irish airports, disproportionately affected, as it wiped 120,000 seats off our summer schedule through the suspension of its nine times weekly services from Shannon to Stewart and Providence.

“The strong passenger numbers that used these services at Shannon, however, proved once again the vibrant market there is for transatlantic flights in and out of this region,” she continued, “This will support our case as we talk to other airlines about the proven potential for these routes.”

Considine confirmed that in the meantime the airport will continue to work with and support its other transatlantic airline partners.

Cork Airport too expressed its ‘disappointment’ that the airline will cease its transatlantic operations from Ireland “following much publicised aircraft issues arising from the grounding of the Boeing Max aircraft,” commented managing director Niall MacCarthy.

He added: “We will redouble our efforts to secure a new transatlantic carrier for Cork to operate from Summer 2021 and we are in active discussions with a number of carriers in this regard.”

Norwegian explained in March it had implemented a back-up plan within 24 hours of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, accommodating all passengers booked onto the airline’s 737 MAX routes from New York Stewart International Airport and Providence, as well as launch a new route from Hamilton/Toronto, Canada, to Dublin.

The airline confirmed nonstop services to Cork and Shannon ended in March with the grounding of the aircraft, and passengers were rerouted to Dublin flights out of Providence and Stewart.

The service to Dublin from the two US cities, and from Hamilton in Canada continued but will now end, with the last flight from the US on September 14, arriving in Dublin on September 15. Meanwhile the last flight from Hamilton, Canada, will depart on September 13.

With this, Norwegian said it will no longer operate any substitute aircraft for the 737 MAX.

The airline also confirmed “this will not affect the airline’s other long-haul services, operated by its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.”


Image: Norwegian taking off from Cork Airport

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