Norwegian Air to press ahead with Dublin Airport base
Low demand prompted budget carrier to cut services from Cork and Shannon
Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of Norwegian Air, which is planning to establish a base at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Norwegian Air International is continuing with its plans for a Dublin Airport base despite announcing that it would cut services from Cork and Shannon later this year.
The budget carrier confirmed earlier this week that low demand prompted it to cut its services from Cork and Shannon airports to Providence, Rhode Island, from October to March 2019.
A spokeswoman for the airline said on Thursday that it was continuing with plans for a base at Dublin Airport, which was announced last year.
“Norwegian opened a new pilot base in Dublin last year and has since created a cabin crew base with more than 40 cabin crew positions recruited for the Dublin base so far,” she said.
The airline held open days for pilots interested in joining the operation late last year and reported strong interest at the time.
She also repeated that Norwegian would continue to assess the possibility of launching flights from Cork to Stewart International Airport in New York state, but stressed that its focus was on boosting the Providence route’s performance.
The airline is expanding an existing service from Shannon to the New York airport.
Norwegian’s announcement that it was cutting the Providence services came just a week after its group chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, warned that it would lose 2.6 billion crowns (€270 million) in the first quarter of this year instead of the the 1.8 billion crowns originally predicted.
He also noted that fuel prices were 12 per cent higher than expected. Rising oil prices are likely to hit airline earnings. Recent moves above $70 a barrel would halve the industry’s profits, according to International Air Transport Association estimates.
Norwegian’s spokeswoman pointed out that the airline’s fuel efficient fleet and “robust hedging strategy” helped insure it against the risk of sudden oil prices.
The Scandinavian airline’s parent, Norwegian Air Shuttle, is buying about 200 new aircraft to support its bid to become a low-cost, long-haul carrier, prompting fears that it is over-stretching its resources.
Its long-haul business and the subsidiary that leases most of its aircraft are based in the Republic.