Wednesday 18 September 2019

Thousands face travel chaos as Norwegian Airline axes its North American flights

A spokesman for the airline said several thousand customers will be offered refunds.
A spokesman for the airline said several thousand customers will be offered refunds.

Anne-Marie Walsh

Thousands of travellers were plunged into travel chaos after Norwegian Airlines announced yesterday that it is cancelling all its transatlantic routes from Ireland.

The six routes between Dublin, Cork and Shannon and New York, Boston and Toronto will wind up on September 15 after the airline decided to shut its Dublin base.

A spokesman for the airline said several thousand customers will be offered refunds.

Alternatively, they will be given the option to travel on transatlantic flights via London or Scandinavia.

However, industry insiders say the refunds will not cover the much higher prices they would likely have to pay now for tickets on competitor airlines. And the alternative routes would mean longer travelling times.

In addition, those going for this option have no guarantee that they will be flying on the same day that they booked.

Up to 134 pilot and cabin crew jobs are at risk following the decision, which was taken after a review of the airline's operations.

The airline spokesman said it is "proactively engaging" with unions for pilots and cabin crew to ensure that redundancies "remain a last resort".

However, 80 Dublin-based administrative workers will not be affected by the route closures.

In a statement, Norwegian said the routes are no longer commercially viable.

The airline has also been affected by the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft after two fatal crashes.

The loss of the Norwegian North American routes came to light as thousands of Ryanair passengers are facing the threat of strikes next week.

Fórsa has accepted an invitation to discussions today issued by mediator Kieran Mulvey over its pilot branch's claim for improved wages and terms and conditions.

But a spokesman said a "substantive and meaningful" proposal from management would have to be tabled to prevent the planned strike action next week.

It is understood that the union is planning a number of one-day strikes that could coincide with stoppages by UK-based pilots on Thursday week.

It was set to serve notice of industrial action yesterday if the airline did not accept its demands by a deadline on Monday.

But it pulled back following the invitation to talks.

Ryanair operates around 230 flights a day in and out of Dublin that could carry up to 43,000 passengers when full at this time of year.

Yet it only grounded a portion of flights last year when hit by industrial action as agency and contracted staff managed to keep most services running.

Irish Independent

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