European low-cost carrier, Norwegian, has revealed it will launch flights from Boston, Baltimore/Washington, D.C. and New York City to two Caribbean destinations: the Guadeloupe Islands and Martinique. The new services will commence from the start of December this year and will be operated using Boeing 737-800 equipment based in the Americas.
Only two years after launching its long-haul operation, Norwegian will now be the largest foreign airline at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport in terms of number of routes as it continues to grow its capacity from the US, a market it now serves with 31 direct routes from Europe, and now the Caribbean.
Norwegian’s new seasonal service to the French West Indies will launch on December 3, 2015, with three flights per week from New York JFK to the Guadeloupe Islands’ Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) and to Martinique’s Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF).
“We launched our first long-haul flights to the US two years ago and the response from American travellers has been fantastic. It’s great to see that our low fares, friendly service and new, more environmentally friendly aircraft are appreciated. It is therefore a pleasure to be able to launch new, exotic routes between the US mainland and the Caribbean islands Guadeloupe and Martinique, said Bjørn Kjos, chief executive officer, Norwegian.
The new routes will also give Norwegian’s passengers from Europe a golden opportunity to combine a city break in New York with an exotic Caribbean vacation. From Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), new markets for the carrier, Norwegian will operate twice weekly service to both Guadeloupe and Martinique.
Norwegian has already announced the launch of direct flights from London and the Scandinavian capitals to the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and St Croix alongside its strong US network. “We will continue to expand in the US, by launching new routes and establishing more US bases,” added Kjos.
With the new services, Norwegian plans to offer US-based customers some of the lowest fares to the Caribbean, with an introductory fare starting at $79 one way, valid from all three US airports and starting at $99 one way from Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French Caribbean, also known as the French West Indies.
The airline is able to operate these routes as Guadeloupe and Martinique are both overseas departments of France to which the United States-European Union-Iceland-Norway Air Transport Agreement applies. The agreement authorises unlimited frequencies between any point or points in the EU and any point or points in US territory for any and all US, EU, Icelandic, and Norwegian airlines.
Norwegian has certainly discovered a way to offer US-Caribbean flights that is creative and will lead to new competition in the region. This possibility has been there for European carriers for years and although Air France has previously based an Airbus A320 in Florida to serve French territories in the Caribbean market, nobody has been as innovative as what Norwegian proposes to offer.
There could also be a lot more to come as Norwegian gets a huge fleet of long-range 737MAX aircraft in the coming years. There are a significant number of ‘European’ territories in the Caribbean, including many lucrative travel markets. These include the likes of the British Virgin Islands, St Barts (France), St Maarten (France), Anguilla (England), Montserrat (England) and Cayman Islands (England).
Earlier this month Routesonline reported that Norwegian had confirmed it will use its new Boeing 737MAX airliners to enhance its long-haul offering across the Atlantic alongside replacing it current Next-Generation 737 models and to grow its short-haul network from its increasing number of European bases (See 'Norwegian to use 737MAX to Boost Transatlantic Network').
The airline is the European launch customer for the new generation airline family and has committed to acquire 100 aircraft as part of a January 2012 deal which was the biggest ever single order placed in Europe for Boeing equipment, valued at $11.4 billion at list prices.
There were suggestions at the time that the enhanced performance of the successor of the current production Next-Generation 737 family would permit their efficient operation on Transatlantic city pairs, but the carrier's CEO has now confirmed in a letter to the US Secretary of Transportation that such deployment of the aircraft is firmly in the minds of the carrier’s network team.
“In 2017 we, as the European launch customer of Boeing, start taking deliveries of the new 737MAX, then additional routes to the East Coast of the US will be launched, offering direct transatlantic connections to new smaller cities and communities on both sides of the Atlantic carrying additional millions of passengers per year between the two continents,” he said.