Shannon Airport has expressed disappointment that Norwegian Air International will cease all transatlantic operations into Ireland from next month.
The carrier, which has been badly affected by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX jet, was forced to cancel dozens of flight from Shannon and Cork airports to the US.
The airline was due to resume operations from Shannon to New York (Stewart) and Providence from March 31st. However, following the grounding the Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, Norwegian had to make alternative arrangements.
Customers booked to travel to the US from Shannon from March 31st, had the option of being transported to Dublin by coach and flown to their destination on a larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet.
Norwegian Air International has now confirmed however that they will no longer operate transatlantic routes from Ireland.
In a statement, acting Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine said: “We acknowledge that the grounding of the 737 MAX Jet had a major impact on this decision and 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. We thank Norwegian Air International and its staff for their commitment to Shannon over the past three years.
“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. This will support our case as we talk to other airlines about the proven potential for these routes.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with and support our other transatlantic airline partners, Aer Lingus, United, Delta and American Airlines, to ensure the continued success of their services between Shannon and JFK and Newark airports for the New York market, as well as Boston and Philadelphia,” Ms Considine added.
In a statement, Norwegian said: “As the airline moves from growth to profitability, we have conducted a comprehensive review of our transatlantic operations between Ireland and North America and considering the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we have concluded that these routes are no longer commercially viable.
“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 difficult decision to discontinue all six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from 15 September 2019.
“Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimise the impact on our customers by hiring (wet-leasing) replacement aircraft to operate services between Ireland and North America. However, as the return to service date for the 737 MAX remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable.
“We are assisting customers by ensuring they can still get to their destination by rerouting them onto other Norwegian services. Customers will also be offered a full refund if they no longer wish to travel. We will continue to offer scheduled services from Dublin to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen as normal,” the statement said.
“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.
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,” the airline added.