Norwegian ‘must clarify Irish flights’

The chief of Norwegian Air International has been asked to directly clarify what is to happen to passengers intending to fly from Cork and Shannon to the US next month, as the crisis around Boeing’s grounded 737 Max intensified. Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said Norwegian founder and chief executive Bjørn Kjos must address passengers on “what measures have been taken to re-route or refund affected passengers thus far”.

Cork Airport management has said it is confident Norwegian will source a 737-800 extended range aircraft to replace the grounded 737 Max used to fly to Providence in Rhode Island when the flights resume in less than two weeks for the summer schedule.

There was no comment available from Shannon management as to its position. Norwegian said it will update passengers and airports once it has finalised plans. Ms Clune said: “What certainty can be provided for passengers who are set to fly these routes with Norwegian from the mentioned airports in the coming weeks and months? I think that this is really important to avoid further inconvenience to passengers.”

All 737 Max aircraft worldwide were grounded in the aftermath of two fatal crashes in five months, plunging Boeing into crisis. Indonesian airline Garuda confirmed it plans to cancel a $6bn (€5.32bn) order for Boeing 737 Max jets, saying some passengers would be frightened to board the plane after the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 and the Ethiopian Airlines crash this month that killed 157.

Boeing now plans to make compulsory a light to alert pilots when sensor readings of the angle of attack do not match. Investigators suspect a faulty angle-of-attack reading led the doomed Lion Air jet’s computer to believe it had stalled, prompting the plane’s anti-stall system, called MCAS, repeatedly to push the plane’s nose down.

Boeing did not comment on the plan to make the safety feature standard, but separately said it was moving quickly to make software changes and expected the upgrade to be approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration in the coming weeks. It will also retrofit older planes with the cockpit warning light, sources said. Experts said it could take weeks or months to be done. Regulators in Europe and Canada have said they will conduct their own reviews of any new systems. Norwegian said its 18 Max jets did not have the cockpit warning light, but it would follow any recommendations made by Boeing and aviation regulations . It wants compensation from Boeing for the cost of grounding its planes.

Additional reporting, Reuters

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