Monday 26 August 2019

Norwegian to end transatlantic flights from Ireland

Norwegian says it is in talks with unions to ensure redundancies are a last resort.

A Boeing 737 MAX Norwegian plane (Norwegian Air/PA)
A Boeing 737 MAX Norwegian plane (Norwegian Air/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Jobs are at risk after airline Norwegian announced it is ending transatlantic flights from Ireland.

The announcement, made on Tuesday afternoon, said the airline would discontinue all six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from September 15.

According to a statement, the 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.

However, uncertainty remains for pilots and cabin crew at the Dublin base.

Norwegian says it is in talks with unions to ensure redundancies are a last resort.

Matthew Wood, SVP Long-Haul Commercial at Norwegian, said the move was to ensure profitability after the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

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 Matthew Wood, Norwegian

Boeing 737 Max planes have been grounded worldwide since March after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

Aviation regulators have not indicated when they will allow the planes to fly again.

“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,” Mr Wood said.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), says anyone affected by the announcement should contact their travel agent if applicable.

“The ITAA is extremely disappointed by the news that three transatlantic routes to Ireland are being discontinued,” he said.

“Norwegian Air has been an important part of building passenger numbers through Cork and Shannon, and we would like to see continued growth in our regional airports.

“While there is plenty of choice in airline routes flying from Dublin, customers will suffer when it comes to competitiveness following the loss of Norwegian’s transatlantic routes.”

The announcement comes amid ongoing uncertainty in the aviation sector.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary previously predicted in April that many airlines would be forced out of business or to make significant changes as they contend with escalating fuel prices, ongoing strike action from pilots and ground staff and Brexit uncertainty.

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