Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Boeing 737 Max grounding forces Norwegian to cut six routes

Airline had leased replacement planes since March but is now abandoning routes it says are 'no longer commercially viable'

Norwegian is cutting services amid continuing grounding of Boeing's 737 Max. Coutersy Norwegian
Norwegian is cutting services amid continuing grounding of Boeing's 737 Max. Coutersy Norwegian

Norwegian Air Shuttle (Norwegian) is cutting six transatlantic routes it had operated between Ireland and North America using Boeing's now grounded 737 Max aircraft.

The airline said it will discontinue six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from September 15. The company said there would be no changes to 46 other non-stop routes between the US and Europe that it operates using Dreamliner planes.

“Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimise the impact on our customers by hiring (wetleasing) replacement aircraft to operate services between Ireland and North America. However, as the return to service date for the 737 Max remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable,” said Matthew Robert Wood, senior vice president for Norwegian's commercial long-haul and new markets business.

The company had initially shifted passengers flying from Cork and Shannon to Providence and New York Stewart International on to Dublin flights but these routes will also end on September 14, the airline said, adding that it would no longer fly replacements for the 737 Max.

The airline "concluded that these routes are no longer commercially viable considering the circumstances", Mr Wood said. "Compounded by the global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and the continued uncertainty of its return to service, this has led us to make the difficult decision to discontinue all six routes" beginning September 16.

Norwegian said customers booked on affected flights could either claim a refund or be re-routed via some of the company's other flights.

It also said it was “proactively engaging with our pilots and cabin crew at our Dublin base, including their respective unions, to ensure that redundancies remain a last resort”.

It said 80 administrative staff based in Dublin who work for various group companies would not be affected by the route closures.

Boeing's 737 Max was grounded by aviation regulators in March after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, causing 157 deaths. This followed an earlier 737 Max crash last October of a flight operated by Indonesia's Lion Air in which 189 people died.

Last month, the plane maker's president, Dennis Muilenburg, said it could halt production of the 737 Max if it does not gain approval from regulators to begin flying the plane as soon as it expects.

Mr Muilenburg said its "best current estimate" is for a return to service for the 737 Max by the end of the year.

Updated: August 14, 2019 03:55 PM

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