Cork and Shannon US flights delayed further as passenger frustration mounts

The return of Norwegian Air flights from Cork and Shannon to the US east coast this summer remain in doubt as various US airlines signalled the Boeing 737 Max aircraft will not fly until at least mid-August.

Norwegian Air International, which flies to Providence, Rhode Island from Cork and Shannon, said passengers booked would continue to be "re-routed via Dublin until further notice" because of the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max following two fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

American Airlines told its employees it was pulling the 737 Max from its summer schedule until August 19, following discussions with Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

It follows Southwest, which removed the jet from its schedules until August 5.

Shares in Boeing fell almost 1% after American's announcement.

The FAA is working with Boeing on a software fix for the 737 Max as well as extra training for pilots on the new aircraft.

Norwegian, which has 18 of the aircraft in its fleet, was supposed to return to its summer routes from Cork and Shannon to Providence this month, but instead transferred passengers to Dublin by bus as it failed to locate alternative aircraft for the 737 Max.

Passengers have complained that Norwegian emailed saying their May flights from Cork and Shannon have been cancelled and rerouted via Dublin, but that the reroute is to New York Stewart Airport, which is a three-hour drive from Providence.

The passengers have said they are being told buses are no longer being organised to and from Dublin and New York Stewart Airports.

They have said they were instructed to organise their own public transport and keep the receipt in order to process a refund.

A spokesman for Norwegian said:

Customers travelling to and from Cork and Shannon are being re-accommodated on to different aircraft types between Dublin, New York and Providence to ensure travel plans can continue with minimal disruption.

Cork Airport declined to comment but a spokesman for Shannon Airport said it was having a disruptive impact on its Norwegian and Air Canada schedules.

"The worldwide grounding of the 737 Max aircraft is having serious implications for passengers and the aviation industry alike.

"From Shannon’s perspective, it is resulting in further delays to the return of the Norwegian and Air Canada services forced on the airlines.

“It also impacts on the airport by way of passenger throughput and resultant business as we build towards what is otherwise a busy summer season.

We will, however, continue to work with the airlines to assist them in every way we can to aid the return of the services in due course.

Shannon confirmed Providence services will be rerouted until at least July 31.

Norwegian, which has been beset by money woes after a spending splurge in recent years, this month postponed the delivery of a number of Airbus A320neo and A321LR aircraft in order to accommodate what it called its "changed focus from growth to profitability".

The postponement will allow it to save $570m (€504m) in capital expenditure this year and next year, it said.

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the crisis yesterday, urging Boeing to ditch the 737 Max name and "rebrand".

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