MONTREAL — Norwegian’s first flight out of Canada takes off today, from Montréal to Guadeloupe, to be followed a few days later with Montréal to Martinique.
The low-cost carrier’s Canadian routes so far include:
- Montréal to Guadeloupe starting Oct. 29. Three times a week service (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) until end of March 2019 (winter season only)
- Montréal to Martinique starting Oct. 31. Three times a week service (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) until end of March 2019 (winter season only).
- Seasonal winter service from Guadeloupe and Martinique to Cayenne, French Guiana, which will allow for connections to Montréal flights. Service will commence end of October 2018.
Next spring Norwegian plans to launch daily service from Hamilton/Toronto to Dublin, with onward connections to Scandinavia and Finland. Service starts March 31, 2019.
Norwegian announced in June 2018 that it was coming into the Canadian market, after much speculation.
The low-cost carrier has been on an aggressive expansion track. After launching long-haul flights in 2013 Norwegian has more than 500 routes servicing a network of 150+ destinations, with long-hauls operated through fully-owned subsidiaries.
The uptick in LCC travel has coincided with the decision by legacy carriers to develop low-cost subsidiaries of their own, and add basic economy fares to their mainline service.
Norwegian recently indicated that its rapid rate of expansion will slow down. Norwegian’s net profit for Q3 was up 18% compared to Q3 2017, with 11 million passengers for the quarter and a load factor at 90.5%.
The airline’s CEO Bjorn Kjos said that going forward “the growth will slow down, and we will begin to reap the large investments we have made over the years … however there is no doubt that tough competition, high oil prices and a strong dollar will affect the entire aviation industry, making it even more important to further streamline our operations and continue to reduce costs.”
High operating costs are partly to blame for the failure of two low-cost carriers in recent weeks. LCC Primera, which offered transatlantic flights out of Toronto and was about to start service out of Montreal, abruptly halted flights on Oct. 2. Meanwhile Cobalt Air, a Cypriot airline in business for two years, shut down operations on Oct. 17.
Like just about every LCC and ULCC Norwegian Air doesn’t pay commission but COO Thomas Ramdahl has said the carrier is looking at setting up volume-based incentives for the trade. Norwegian’s travel agent portal is https://agent.norwegian.com.
“Agents are important to us,” says Ramdahl. “Especially coming into new markets, agents are really important.”