WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Norwegian Air is cutting service to T.F. Green Airport following the global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max planes, according to the airline.
In a news release Tuesday, Matthew Robert Wood, Norwegian’s senior vice president of commercial long-haul and new markets, said the airline is discontinuing six routes from the U.S. and Canada to Dublin, Cork and Shannon, Ireland.
“These routes are no longer commercially viable,” Wood said.
“Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimize the impact on our customers by hiring, so-called wet leasing, replacement aircraft to operate services between North America and Ireland,” he added. “However, as the return to service date for the 737 Max remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable.”
The 737 Max jets were taken out of service worldwide following the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air disasters.
Norwegian launched transatlantic flights at T.F. Green in 2017. The airline’s final flight from Providence to Dublin will depart Sept. 14.
Customers who booked travel on now-canceled flights can choose to receive a full refund or be rerouted to their destinations on other Norwegian flights.
Bill Fischer, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, said the route from T.F. Green to Dublin had 125,000 passengers from July 2017 through April 2019, filling about 85% of seats that were available during the same time period.
“The Dublin route was extremely successful for T.F. Green and Rhode Islanders supported that route,” Fischer said in an email. “The only silver lining is that we can point potential new airline partners to those passenger numbers, which clearly demonstrate the demand.”
“We have been in ongoing discussions for the past few months with potential airline partners and are hopeful to make some announcements in the future that will create greater travel options for Rhode Islanders,” he added.
RIAC gave Norwegian $2.3 million in marketing incentives to publicize the new route, according to Fischer. State leaders also went out of their way to court the airline.
Norwegian’s departure from T.F. Green is the latest in a series of losses for the airport.
As Eyewitness News reported last month, Frontier Airlines cut three routes from Rhode Island in 2019, Southwest slashed more than 900 flights for the year, and a direct, daily flight to Montreal folded before it ever took off.
T.F. Green had 1.2 million passengers from January through April, down nearly 9% compared with the same period last year, according to the most recent data published on RIAC’s website.