CORK Airport’s dream of having transatlantic flights was short-lived it seems, following the announcement today by low-cost airline Norwegian to end its flights from Ireland to the US.
‘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,’ it said in a statement today.
The statement added that it takes a strict approach to route management and constantly evaluates route performance to ensure it meets 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 September 15th 2019,’ it added.
The airline had already been forced to move flights from Cork to Shannon and later 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 (wetleasing) 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, issued this afternoon, 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.
‘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 statement concluded.
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.