Plea over suspended Ireland-USA routes after jet’s grounding
The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft fleet now threatens to deprive Cork and Shannon of their direct Norwegian Airlines routes to the US for the entire summer season.
Ryanair — which has an order in place for 135 of the next-generation Boeing aircraft in its MAX 200 version — may also be unable to introduce the plane into service before late August.
The Irish airline was scheduled to accept five 737-MAX 200s, a modified version of the MAX 8, by June with a further 50 scheduled for delivery before the start of the 2020 season.
Ryanair insisted its schedules would be unaffected by the grounding as its network continues to be fully operated by its fleet of 400 Boeing 737-800s.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune urged airlines such as Norwegian to do everything possible to restore their critical US routes from Cork and Shannon.
Norwegian has maintained its direct US services from Dublin thanks to a replacement aircraft.
However, passengers booked with Norwegian to fly from Cork and Shannon to the US have been offered a bus service to Dublin for onward flights or a full refund.
Cork Airport is one of the fastest expanding in Europe and is on course for growth of more than 8% in 2019.
The entire global fleet of the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded following a fatal crash in Ethiopia on March 10.
Irishman Michael Ryan (39), a father-of-two and an engineer with the UN food programme, was amongst the 157 people who died in the tragedy.
It was the second fatal accident involving the brand new jet in five months after another Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea off Indonesia before Christmas.
Norwegian last year cancelled its US routes from Belfast International Airport.