Norwegian, Europe’s Best Low-Cost Airline, Launches Flights from the U.S. to the French Caribbean
Atout France: Why did you decide to launch flights from the US to Guadeloupe and Martinique?
Anders Lindström: We saw a major opportunity as these two islands are underserved from the US, and especially from the Northeast, where we know most Americans to the French Caribbean are actually traveling from. As a European airline, the winter season is not as busy as the summer, which means most of our competitors park a large number of the aircraft on the ground for several months. Instead of doing that, the network team looked at various options to utilize the planes and realized that two of the most beautiful and interesting islands in the whole of Caribbean actually had really limited air lift. Since both Guadeloupe and Martinique are part of France, we can fly between these destinations and offer Americans more affordable fares.
AF: How will this service differ from your long-haul service?
AL: These six new routes - from Baltimore/Washington DC, Boston and New York - will be our first short-haul flights from the US, so will differ quite a bit from our long-haul service on the Dreamliner, but is still a really enjoyable and comfortable experience. Firstly, the aircraft are brand new, delivered this fall from the Boeing fabric, and we’ll be the first airline to offer free Wi-Fi to the Caribbean. Customers will get plenty of legroom and it’ll be some of the cheapest fares to the region, but without discounting on service and quality.
AF: Norwegian is a low-cost airline, what’s in it for travel agents to book a customer rather than the customer booking themselves?
AL: As with all low-cost airlines, the concept is that the customers only pay for what they want, which means a really low starting fare, and then you add the services you need. It’ll still be cheaper than a legacy carrier. With Norwegian, however, when travel agents book us, the fare that shows is our LowFare+ fare, which is discounted for them, and it includes luggage and seat reservation – and on long-haul routes all meals and drinks– so they never have to worry about their clients not getting full service. Travel agents are very important to our business and have dedicated manuals and websites for them.
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Norwegian is the world’s fastest-growing airline and the third largest low-cost airline in Europe. This year it was named Best European low-cost carrier for the third consecutive time by Skytrax, which is voted for by passengers, and at the same time World’s best low-cost long-haul airline. Norwegian operates more than 430 routes to 132 destinations in 37 countries and carried 24 million customers in 2014. From the US, Norwegian offers 34 routes from 10 US airports, offering more nonstop European destinations than any other European airline.
About the French Caribbean
Located between Antigua and Dominica, Guadeloupe is a stunning French-Archipelago and Premier Island Hopping Destination comprised of 5 unique islands - Grande Terre, Basse Terre, Marie Galante, Les Saintes and La Desirade – closely strung together by beautiful waters and efficient ferry services, flamboyant preserved nature, exquisite cuisine, a diverse cultural heritage, Art de Vivre, and 250-plus sun-warmed beaches in shades of white, black, gold, ochre and pink.
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Martinique is the Caribbean Island with French Flair, The Isle of Flowers, The Rum Capital of the World, The Isle of the Famed Poet (Aimé Césaire) – Martinique ranks among the most alluring and enchanting destinations in the world. As an overseas region of France, Martinique boasts modern and reliable infrastructure – roads, water and power utilities, hospitals, and telecommunications services all on par with any other part of the European Union.At the same time, Martinique’s beautifully unspoiled beaches, volcanic peaks, rainforests, 80+ miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, streams, and other natural wonders are the equal of neighboring Dominica to the north and St. Lucia to the south, so visitors here truly get the best of both worlds.
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