MIAMI — Norwegian Air will axe its transatlantic routes from Ireland to the United States starting September 15.
The low-cost carrier will discontinue its routes from Dublin (DUB), Cork (CRK), and Shannon (SNN), to Hamilton (YHM), Newburgh (SWF), and Providence (PVD), putting at risk more than 130 jobs that the airline has based its three Irish stations.
Back in March, the airline had shuffled its operation to ensure that all three Irish airports were properly catered for its transatlantic services.
Norwegian said in a statement that it had worked continuously since the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX to ensure that customers travel plans can continue with minimal disruption.
Passengers flying between New York (Stewart) and Providence to Shannon were accommodated on Boeing 787-9 flights instead, whereas the Dublin and Hamilton rotation continued to operate as normal, on a 737-800 aircraft.
Notwithstanding the carrier’s efforts, according to Matthew Wood, the airline’s SVP Long-Haul Commercial, the ongoing Boeing 737 MAX crisis curtailed Norwegian’s ability to continue operating swiftly out of these three bases.
“We have tirelessly sought to minimize the impact on our customers by hiring 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,” he asserted.
Wood added that these routes “are no longer commercially viable,” and that “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.”
Norwegian will rebook all the affected passengers on flights departing from other bases in Europe that handle flights to North America.
“We will continue to offer scheduled services from Dublin to Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen,” concluded Wood, reassuring affected passengers that their itineraries will be honored.
The news of the route cancellations will affect dearly the three Irish airports, which welcomed the opening of a transatlantic network with open arms.
“The latest figures from Dublin Airport show that transatlantic passenger numbers were up 5% year on year in the month of July to just shy of 500,000. Dublin had almost four million transatlantic passengers in 2018 and this market had almost doubled in size since 2014,” said Graeme McQueen, head of communications of the Dublin Chamber.
Matthew Wood concluded his statement by thanking Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports “in addition to New York Stewart, Providence and Hamilton airports, tourism partners and our colleagues and customers for supporting Norwegian’s transatlantic expansion from Ireland since 2017.”
These Irish closures now join Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Gran Canaria (LPA), Tenerife (TCI), Rome-Fiumicino (FCO), Stewart (SWF), and Providence (PVD), all of which closed their regional operations.
Norwegian claims that these base cuts are part of ongoing cost-cutting efforts, which aim to save up to $234 million.
At the time of the announcement, Helga Bollmann Leknes, Norwegian Air’s CCO, said that the airline “had reached a point where it needs to make necessary adjustments to its route portfolio in order to improve the sustainability and financial performance in this very competitive environment.”
Norwegian’s USA-Europe Market Remains Strong
Regardless of the closure of the airline’s three Irish bases, Norwegian continues to fly strong into the United States.
The airline’s first-quarter results for 2019 evidenced that Norwegian has managed to reduce its costs, increase its revenue, and significantly improve its on-time performance.
Even though the airline continued to post a net loss of NOK 1,489 million, the company’s unit cost, excluding fuel, decreased by 8% compared to the same period in last year. This has seen the airlines total revenue rise to NOK 8 billion, up 14%.
In February, the carrier became the largest non-North American airline to serve the New York area in 2018, carrying over two million passengers on its transatlantic routes.
“We see this as a positive indicator that Americans have embraced and continue to support our service and our disruptive model on transatlantic routes,” said the airline’s former CEO, Bjorn Kjos.
Later that month, the carrier announced new services from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Barcelona-El Prat (BCN), as well as from New York (JFK) to Athens (ATH).
On top of the airline’s improved performance, its founder and CEO, Bjorn Kjos stepped down in mid-July after 17 years of tenure.
Kjos has been in command of the airline since 2002. He was appointed as Chairman, steering the company from its humble beginnings all the way to the global powerhouse that it has become today.