Cork and Shannon's summer schedules to be hit by Boeing Max fleet grounding
The grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft fleet now threatens to deprive Cork and Shannon of their direct Norwegian Airlines routes to the US for the entire summer season.
Ryanair - which has an order in place for 135 of the next-generation Boeing aircraft in its Max 200 version - may also be unable to introduce the plane into service before late August.
The Irish airline was scheduled to accept five 737-Max 200s, a modified version of the Max 8, by June with a further 50 scheduled for delivery before the start of the 2020 season.
Ryanair insisted its schedules would be unaffected by the grounding as its network continues to be fully operated by its fleet of 400 Boeing 737-800 series aircraft.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune stressed that while all necessary safety measures should be implemented for passenger well-being, she urged airlines such as Norwegian to do everything possible to restore their critical US routes from Cork and Shannon. Norwegian has maintained its direct US services from Dublin thanks to a replacement aircraft.
However, passengers booked with Norwegian to fly from Cork and Shannon to the US have been offered a bus service to Dublin for onward flights or a full refund.
"I believe the measures that have been taken by Norwegian are necessary to ensure the safety of passengers," Ms Clune said. "However, passengers travelling on transatlantic flights from Cork and Shannon must be taken care of while the flights are not in operation from these airports."
The entire global fleet of the Boeing 737 Max was grounded following a fatal crash in Ethiopia on March 10 just minutes after the plane had taken off.
Irish national Michael Ryan (39), a father of two and an engineer with the UN food programme, was among the 157 people who died.
It was the second fatal accident involving the jet in five months after another crashed into the sea off Indonesia last October.