Tuesday 21 May 2019

Norwegian to hire more staff as it grows base

Low-cost transatlantic carrier to set up Dublin cabin crew centre, writes Fearghal O'Connor


Fearghal O'Connor

Low-cost transatlantic carrier Norwegian is to further expand its growing Dublin operation, with plans for a new Irish cabin crew base.

The fast-growing Scandinavian carrier already had plans, revealed by this newspaper last August, to hire 40 pilots for a greatly expanded Irish base. Recruitment for those positions is under way with the airline seeking captains and first officers to operate its growing fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on transatlantic and European routes out of both its Dublin and Edinburgh bases.

With over 100 new 737 MAX aircraft on order, some of which are expected to be used on Irish routes, the airline has now confirmed that it is looking to expand its plans for Dublin even further and it intends recruiting new cabin crew for the base.

The move to further grow in Dublin will not be welcomed by Irish rivals Aer Lingus or Ryanair. Aer Lingus has previously admitted it faces serious competitive pressure on its transatlantic routes from Norwegian, while Ryanair faced severe pilot-rostering problems last autumn, with anecdotal reports suggesting that it was losing an increasing number of its pilots to the Scandinavian carrier since its arrival in Ireland.

"With a series of transatlantic routes launched from Ireland last year and plans for continued future expansion, Norwegian opened a new pilot base in Dublin in late 2017 with a number of pilots already permanently employed at the base," a Norwegian spokesperson said.

"As a result of strong interest from candidates and Norwegian's own growth ambitions, we are looking to expand our plans for the Dublin base which will also now include the creation of a cabin crew base in spring 2018. More than 60 cabin crew positions have been recruited for the Dublin base so far and a range of further pilot positions are also now being advertised for experienced candidates with either a Boeing or Airbus rating, or equivalent type."

The spokesperson said that the "new positions offer permanent employment at a fast-growing airline, and global flying opportunities on one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world, so we look forward to welcoming many more people to Norwegian".

The Nordic carrier has invested at least $500m in its Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, since it was set up in 2013.

It faced a major regulatory battle to set up its new Irish-domiciled transatlantic model but was last year finally awarded a foreign carrier permit by the US authorities allowing it to operate from Ireland, after a three-year battle with American trade unions and transport authorities. That cleared the way for it to launch a series of new transatlantic routes from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast to the US east coast last summer.

The airline is still unlikely to have things its own way in the increasingly-competitive transatlantic battleground. Aer Lingus greatly expanded its westbound operation from Dublin last year. Icelandic low-cost carrier Wow Air has also moved into the market, while its compatriot Icelandair is also expanding its transfer hub through Reykjavik. JetBlue chief financial officer Steve Priest also confirmed last week that the US carrier is still considering buying new aircraft that would allow it enter the transatlantic market.

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