Norwegian ends transatlantic flights from Ireland; blames 737 MAX
Norwegian Air is cutting its flights from Ireland to North America starting September 15, 2019. The airline, which aims to restore profitability, has decided to end six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to Canada and the United States, citing that “these routes are no longer commercially viable”. According to the company, the decision was heavily influenced by Boeing 737 MAX groundings.
Norwegian, which operates 18 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, opted to continue the routes despite the global groundings. The low-cost carrier wet leased aircraft to replace the jets but eventually said that the solution is “unsustainable” long-term due to the uncertainty of when the 737 MAX will return to service.
“Compounded by the global grounding of the 737 MAX and the continued uncertainty of its return to service, this has led us to make the difficult decision to discontinue all six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from 15 September 2019,”.senior Vice president of Long-Haul Commercial at Norwegian, Matthew Wood, said.
However, flag carrier Aer Lingus has quite a different opinion on the unprofitability of transatlantic routes from Ireland:
We beg to differ https://t.co/y6eQsUj7Tl— Aer Lingus (@AerLingus) August 13, 2019
In its Q2 2019 financial report, Norwegian noted that it has current (or short-term) lease liabilities amounting to $432,644 (NOK3.848 million). Compared to the same period in 2018, Norwegian had 0 liabilities. The airline expects the groundings, which have affected “demand, operating expenses and production” to negatively impact its 2019 results by approximately $78 million (NOK700 million).
Norwegian will provide passengers with the option to reroute onto other flights within the airlines’ network or grant the choice to get a full refund if customers “no longer wish to travel”. The airline is also in contact with it's pilot and cabin crew unions based in Dublin to “ensure that redundancies remain a last resort”. Icelandair, another airline heavily impacted by the groundings, released 45 pilots back in June.
Other airlines have also been cautious scheduling flights with the grounded jet – Air Canada and Southwest Airlines delayed flights with the MAX until January 2020.
Norwegian was the first airline to publicly demand Boeing for compensation. In a video message back on March 13, 2019, the now-former CEO of the airline, Bjørn Kjos stated: “It is quite obvious that we will not take the cost related to the new aircraft that we have to park temporarily. We will send this bill to those who produced the aircraft”.
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