Norwegian Enters Canada With New Routes to Europe and the French Caribbean
Norwegian Air, the low-cost carrier that's expanded its presence around the world, is making its way to another country. On Thursday, Norwegian announced that it's entering the Canadian market with three routes.
Beginning in late October, Norwegian will launch seasonal service from Montréal (YUL) to the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe (PTP) and Martinique (FDF). In addition, beginning in 2019, Norwegian will launch daily service between Hamilton International Airport (YHM) — located near Toronto — and Dublin (DUB). When it launches, the route will be the only transatlantic service out of YHM.
As of October 29, 2018, Norwegian will launch service between YUL and PTP with 3x weekly operations — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, flights between YUL and FDF will commence on November 1, 2018, with 2x weekly service — on Thursdays and Saturdays. Fares to both destinations will start at $219 CAD (~$164) one-way. Although both routes begin on different dates, the seasonal service will operate through the end of March 2019.
Meanwhile, flights between the Toronto area and Dublin will operate daily, year-round. One-way fares start at $279 CAD (~$209).
As for what you can expect to operate these new flights to Canada, all will be serviced by Boeing 737 variants. Routes between Montréal and the French Caribbean will be operated by Boeing 737-800s. Meanwhile, transatlantic flights between Hamilton and Dublin will be operated by the carrier's Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The MAX features a total of 189 seats in a 3-3 configuration — each with 29-30 inches of pitch and 17.2 inches of width. Find a complete tour of the aircraft here.
The French Caribbean isn't a new destination for Norwegian. Currently, the carrier offers seasonal service from both FDF and PTP to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and New York (JFK). Along with the announcement of Canadian flights, Norwegian also detailed plans to increase the frequencies with which it already serves those routes. Service between FLL and PTP and FDF will increase to 4x weekly, and routes between JFK and PTP and FDF will increased to 6x weekly.
Norwegian's launch in Canada is the latest in a worldwide expansion for the low-cost carrier. Since taking the United States market by storm with its low fares — one-way fares to Europe starting at $65 — Norwegian has since expanded with service to Argentina, Asia and more. The airline's CEO has hinted at further expansion to come, possibly the Middle East and Africa.
Even with its success in spanning the globe, Norwegian has struggled financially. The carrier reported a net loss of €30.8 million in 2017, compared to a €116 million profit in 2016. The loss was driven by significant costs associated with hiring in its expansion, as well as rising fuel costs. It’s also struggling to uphold its fleet. Though it does operate new 787 Dreamliners and 737 MAX aircraft, the ongoing issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine have forced the carrier to lease aircraft from other operators while its Dreamliners undergo repair.
International Airlines Group, which is the parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus and others, reportedly made three offers to purchase the airline. Norwegian publicly declined two offers. Most recently, it was reported that Lufthansa was also interested in purchasing Norwegian. For full-service carriers like Lufthansa and IAG's airlines, there's plenty of value to be had from acquiring Norwegian — namely one less competitor.