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Norwegian to launch Canadian flights in October

Norwegian will enter the Canadian market later this year with flights to the French Caribbean, and in March 2019 will add a new daily service between Hamilton and Irish capital Dublin.

The Scandinavian low-cost carrier will also this year begin flights between the Caribbean and French Guiana and boost service on three US-Caribbean routes.

Norwegian describes the growth as expansion of a strategy to connect secondary North American cities with Europe and to better utilise aircraft during winter.

The Canadian expansion kicks off on 29 October when Norwegian will begin three-times-weekly flights between Montreal and Guadeloupe's Pointe-a-Pitre.

On 1 November, the airline will start twice-weekly flights from Montreal to Fort-de-France on Martinique.

The airline will operate both routes until the end of March 2018, and will do so with Boeing 737-800s.

Air Transat and Air Canada Rouge will also fly the Montreal-Martinique and Montreal-Guadeloupe routes this winter, FlightGlobal schedules data shows.

But Norwegian sees opportunity partly deriving from the strong French influence in Montreal and Quebec, states Norwegian chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl.

The new Canadian-Caribbean flights will coincide with Norwegian's launch of service to Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana in South America.

Norwegian will begin three-times-weekly Martinique-Cayenne flights on 31 October, followed by twice-weekly Guadeloupe-Cayenne flights on 1 November.

"We have the aircraft down there and the crew, so why not utilise it and try a new market?" Ramdahl states.

Norwegian will compete against Air France between Martinique and Cayenne, FlightGlobal schedules data shows.

Norwegian's transatlantic service to Canada begins 31 March 2019 with daily 737 Max 8 flights between Dublin and Hamilton, which is southwest of Toronto.

That move reflects Norwegian's strategy of launching transatlantic flights to smaller, lower-cost North American cities, Ramdahl indicates.

"With bigger airports, it's not as easy to have the close interactive co-operation," he notes.

Norwegian also chose Hamilton because the city has a large catchment area of potential passengers. This includes both Toronto and the Niagara Falls region, the carrier says.

Though Air Transat and Air Canada both serve Dublin from nearby Toronto, Norwegian will offer lower fares and connections at Dublin to other European cities, Ramdahl asserts.

Norwegian will also add flights on existing US-French Caribbean routes this winter.

From late October it will operate at four-times-weekly frequency on routes to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Fort Lauderdale and six times a week from New York JFK to Martinique.

Last year, the carrier operated both Fort Lauderdale routes thrice weekly and the JFK-Martinique route four times a week.

In late October, the airline will return to the JFK-Guadeloupe market with six-times-weekly fights – the same number as last year.

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