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ASA flight disruptors?

One of the world's fastest-growing airlines is spreading its wings to Canada this fall as Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA enters the country's increasingly crowded travel market.

The airline plans to launch flights from Montreal to islands in the French Caribbean this fall. Three days per week winter service to Guadeloupe starts Oct. 29 and to Martinique on Nov. 1.

Because it is a European carrier, it can fly to other European countries in the Caribbean with flights originating from Canada. Those islands are the only ones that are European territories. To eventually fly to other Caribbean countries, it would have to stop a European flight in Canada to pick up passengers.

Norwegian is also adding daily direct year-round service between Hamilton, Ont., and Dublin starting next March.

The Caribbean routes will use Boeing 737-800s. Flights to Dublin will be aboard Boeing 737 Maxs.

The airline was forced to postpone its entry into Canada this summer because engine problems caused delivery delays of the fuel-efficient Max aircraft.

It is making a "soft entry" in Canada while deciding about future expansion to other large Canadian gateways and destinations.

"We will start off with these routes, and if it's a great success we will be coming in with much more in the future and with bigger planes," chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl said.

The larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner could be used on routes from Toronto Pearson, Montreal and Vancouver to London, Paris and Rome.

Norwegian is modelling its entry into Canada on its foray into the United States five years ago. It started with three routes from Scandinavia and is now servicing more than 60 destinations from various American cities.

"We're trying to differentiate or disrupt the old way of flying, Ramdahl said.



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