Monday 21 October 2019

Norwegian will not resume flights from Cork or Shannon this year

Grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft will mean loss of over 120,000 seats from Shannon alone this year

Norwegian. Photo: Deposit
Norwegian. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Low-cost airline Norwegian will offer no further flights from Cork or Shannon airports this year, a spokesperson has confirmed.

"Due to the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX by the European aviation authorities, our flights to and from Cork and Shannon will be re-routed via Dublin for the remainder of the summer season," the airline said in a statement.

"Cork is a seasonal route, while the reduced availability of aircraft has led to the removal of Shannon services this winter," it added.

The decision is a result of the grounding of hundreds of Boeing 737 MAX jets worldwide, following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Norwegian has been forced to ground all 18 of its MAX planes, impacting the number of flights it has been able to operate across its network.

“Customers travelling to and from Cork and Shannon are being re-accommodated onto different aircraft types between Dublin, New York and Providence to ensure travel plans can continue with minimal disruption," it advises.

Affected customers can rebook or receive a free refund, and may also claim expenses for rail or bus travel to Dublin "with proof or receipt", it adds.

"We would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Loss of seats

Shannon Airport expressed its disappointment at the news, which compounds the loss of Boeing 737 MAX services operated by Air Canada.

Losing the flights "will mean a loss of over 120,000 seats at Shannon in 2019 and as a result our overall passenger numbers will be down," a spokesperson said.

However, the airport remained confident that once the 737 MAX is back flying, services will be restored, "as they were extremely popular in 2018".

At Cork Airport, Managing Director Niall MacCarthy said he regretted the grounding of Norwegian's aircraft and the impact on its network.

"Norwegian have curtailed services in a large number of European airports, including Cork, Shannon and Belfast. We're confident that, with a proven market in Cork for transatlantic services, they will return in due course and we continue to market these to Norwegian and other airlines."

Transatlantic trouble

Norwegian first began flying from Cork, Dublin, Belfast and Shannon to regional airports in the US in the summer of 2017.

At the time, headline-grabbing fares for as low as €69 each-way were touted as the start of a new era in affordable transatlantic travel.

Services on a new generation of fuel-efficient, single-aisle aircraft were a selling point, connecting to New York's Stewart Airport and Providence/Boston-TF Green.

Despite rapidly expanding, however, the airline subsequently struggled to turn a profit amid tough competition, high fuel prices and an aviation landscape that saw another so-called 'disruptor', Iceland's WOW air, collapse at short notice this March.

Norwegian ceased flying from Belfast to the US last October.

In March, it briefly introduced a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Dublin in response to the suspended MAX operations. It has since being using a leased A330 aircraft and a Boeing 737-800 to continue the transatlantic routes.

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