Another casualty of 737 MAX debacle: Norwegian Air cuts low-fare US-Ireland routes
Budget carrier Norwegian Air has said it will stop flying routes between North America and Ireland in September, saying it will focus on profits over growth—the routes were "no longer commercially viable," the company said in a press release.
The decision, blamed on the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max affects three transatlantic routes: Providence, Rhode Island-Dublin: Four weekly flights; Newburgh, New York (New York Stewart International Airport)-Dublin: Daily flights; Hamilton, Ontario-Dublin: Three weekly flights
Refunding or rebooking service will be provided accordingly.
Norwegian previously offered flights from Providence and Stewart to other destinations in Ireland, but those were suspended earlier this year due to the Max grounding. "Since March, 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," said Matthew Wood, senior vice president of Norwegian's long-haul division.
With 165 planes, Norwegian, which flew 37 million people in 2018, doesn’t crack the Top 20 list of airlines by number of aircraft. Yet Norwegian’s 18 Boeing 737 MAX (about 11% of its fleet) made it the sixth-largest operator of the plane, and it has suffered equally disproportionately.
Norwegian will still have plenty of flights between the United States and Europe, though many of the routes are seasonal. The airline has flights from 14 other U.S. cities: Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Los Angeles; Miami; New York JFK; Newark; Oakland, California; Orlando, Florida; San Francisco; Seattle; and Tampa, Florida.
Destinations include London; Paris; Barcelona, Spain; Stockholm; and Oslo.
Norwegian Air was founded in 1993 as a small domestic airline, but changed strategy in 2002 to become a budget carrier.
Its low fares have helped it grow rapidly, and it is now Europe's third biggest low-cost carrier.
Last year it launched 35 new routes, carried more than 37 million passengers and added 2,000 staff.
Its big innovation has been to operate low-cost long-haul flights between the UK and the US, which it started in 2014. It now flies to 12 US destinations from London's Gatwick airport.
It has become the biggest international carrier to serve the New York City area, carrying more passengers there than British Airways, Air Canada or Lufthansa, according to figures from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
However, that growth has come at the expense of profits.
The airline lost 1.45bn kroner (£135m) last year, which it blamed on fuel costs, tough competition and issues with engines on its Dreamliner aircraft.
In March, to shore up its finances, Norwegian raised 1.3bn kroner through a share sale and also sold some aircraft.
Chief executive Bjoern Kjos stepped down in July, 17 years after founding the company that he still partially owns.
Kjos will continue working as an adviser to the airline's chairman, focusing on industry alliances and building on a recent agreement with rival EasyJet