Norwegian drops Hamilton flights, pulls out of Canada

A Norwegian 737 Max. The airline is cancelling service between Ireland and North America as a result of the type’s grounding (photo: Norwegian).

European airline Norwegian is blaming the Boeing 737 Max crisis for its decision to drop trans-Atlantic service from Hamilton, Ontario as of September 15. The decision means the airline, which bills itself as a long-haul, low-cost airline, will pull out of Canada next month.

“As the airline moves from growth to profitability,” said the company in a news release, “we have conducted a comprehensive review of our transatlantic operations between Ireland and North America and considering the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we have concluded that these routes are no longer commercially viable.”

The service between Hamilton and Dublin, Ireland has been operating four times a week since March. It was planned as a summer seasonal route, though Tuesday’s announcement means the service is ending earlier than expected.

Despite the Max grounding, Norwegian, a long-haul ultra low-cost carrier, announced in late March it found a 737-800NG from its fleet for the Hamilton route in the spring. But the company says the cost to lease replacement aircraft for the Max has made the effort too expensive in the long term.

“Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimise the impact on our customers by hiring (wetleasing) replacement aircraft to operate services between Ireland and North America. However, as the return to service date for the 737 MAX remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable.”

Norwegian offered six routes from Ireland to Canada and the United States this summer. They will all disappear, with no mention that they will ever return.

“It is important to note that the Hamilton-Dublin route offered by Norwegian, is a seasonal service scheduled to end September 13 and therefore, there is no operational impact to flights scheduled between Hamilton and Dublin,” said Dina Carlucci, Hamilton International’s Director Marketing and Communications in a statement.

Other Norwegian flights from the United States to Europe are not affected.

Carriers around the world have been affected by the crisis, including Air Canada, Westjet and Sunwing airlines. The 737 Max has been grounded around the world since March, after a pair of deadly crashes. No date has been set for its return to service.

Boeing has reduced production of the Max, and has warned manufacturing could be halted altogether if the crisis drags on. The company has set aside $5.6 billion (U.S.) to compensate customers hurt by the grounding. Air Canada has warned the Max crisis could hit its summer results as it has had to juggle aircraft and lease capacity from other carriers.

“We are assisting customers by ensuring they can still get to their destination by rerouting them onto other Norwegian services,” said the airline. “Customers will also be offered a full refund if they no longer wish to travel.”

The decision will leave Hamilton, which served 725,000 passengers last year, once again without a European non-stop flight. Hamilton was Norwegian’s only destination in Canada.