Norwegian has today announced its intention to pull out of low-cost transatlantic operations between Ireland and the United States from 15th September. The airline said it had made the decision following a “comprehensive review” of transatlantic operations between the two countries which had led them to the conclusion the routes were no longer “commercially viable”.
Six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon in Ireland to New York Stewart and Providence in the United States, as well as Hamilton in Canada face being axed in the shakeup. Norwegian had originally used Boeing 737MAX single-aisle planes between these smaller airports but had faced significant issues following the worldwide grounding of the aircraft type.
Matthew Robert Wood, a senior executive at the low-cost carrier said expensive wet-lease operations to make up for the shortfall had become “unsustainable” as the date for the return to service of the 737MAX remains uncertain.
“We have tirelessly sought to minimize the impact on our customers by hiring, so-called wet leasing, replacement aircraft to operate services between North America and Ireland,” explained Wood.
“However, as the return to service date for the 737 MAX remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable,” he continued.
Nonstop services between the U.S. and Cork and Shannon in Ireland had already been grounded in March, with passengers rerouted via Dublin. That temporary measure, however, will now become permanent as Norwegian seeks to trim loss-making routes and return to profitability.
80 members of Norwegian’s administrative staff based in Ireland will not be affected by the route closures but there is the possibility that cabin crew and pilots could be made redundant in the shakeup. In a statement, Norwegian said redundancies would only be made as a “last resort” and that the airline was working with trade unions to reduce the impact on staff.