CORK air passengers face an anxious wait to find out if the decision to suspend the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Irish airspace will affect the Cork to Providence transatlantic route.
The decision was made by the Irish Aviation Authority in the light of two fatal accidents involving the aircraft in recent months, including the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.
Flights between Cork and the Rhode Island airport, near Boston, are set to resume next month and operate three times per week across the summer months.
The route provider, Norwegian, announced yesterday that it would not operate any flights with Boeing 737 MAX aircraft type until further notice.
“We would like to apologise to customers who will be affected by temporary cancellations and delays, but the safety and security of our customers and colleagues will never be compromised, and once authorities advise to cease operations we will, of course, comply,” the company said in a statement.
It has yet to clarify which routes will be affected by the decision.
The Boeing 737 MAX was one of the aircraft used for the Cork to Providence route since it launched in 2017, but Norwegian also has more than 110 Boeing 737–800 aircraft in its fleet, which are not affected by this temporary suspension.
A spokesperson for Cork Airport said the route was scheduled to resume on April 2 and added: “Norwegian will advise the aircraft type that will operate the route presently.”
No other airlines are currently operating Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into or out of Cork Airport.
Meanwhile, the UK has joined Ireland and other countries in blocking passenger flights on Boeing’s 737 Max plane following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster on Sunday, which killed 157 people, including Cork resident Micheál Ryan.
A pair of Turkish Airlines 737 Max 8 services to London Gatwick and Birmingham returned to Istanbul mid-flight after the ban was announced yesterday.
Other countries to have banned the planes include France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, China, Australia, Singapore, Oman, and Indonesia, but flights are continuing in the US and Canada.
The Irish Aviation Authority said: “This decision has been taken based on ensuring the continued safety of passengers and flight crew, which is the IAA’s number one priority.”