By Siobhán Cronin
CORK Airport’s dream of having transatlantic flights was short-lived it seems, following the announcement on Tuesday by low-cost airline Norwegian to end its flights from Ireland to the US.
‘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,’ it said in a statement.
‘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 September 15th 2019,’ it added.
The airline had already been forced to move flights and passengers from Cork to Dublin, after the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft over safety concerns earlier this year.
‘Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimise the impact on our customers by hiring 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,’ the statement continued.
‘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. 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.
Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said the airport was disappointed with the news, but added: ‘Cork Airport is the fastest growing airport on the island of Ireland this year with eight new UK and Continental European routes. We expect further growth next year on short haul services to and from Cork. 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.’
The news will also come as a blow to Cork County Council which had forged business and economic links with the US, as a direct result of the launch of the US services from Cork in 2017.
Norwegian confirmed to The Southern Star on Wednesday that there would be no job losses in Cork Airport as a result of the move, as they do not have any staff based in Cork.