By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
CAYENNE, French Guiana — Norwegian Airlines is opening markets that were previously unheard, such as Cayenne, French Guiana, which is an overseas department of France and the EU. The airline will connect Martinique and Guadeloupe with Cayenne, which is located on the South American mainland, next to Suriname.
From Cayenne, the airline can fly as an EU carrier to any destinations that the EU has rights over. The airline can also fly from Cayenne to Paramaribo or Georgetown, Guyana. The airline also flies from a number of US cities to Martinique and Guadeloupe. The service has become so popular that Norwegian has added two additional flights, bringing the total to six. Large numbers of Dominicans and Saint Lucians use the NY service to travel to their homeland cheaply.
Norwegian can add Cayenne to its JFK network. It has the slots and the aircrafts to ply the route. However, the fact that French Guiana is part of the EU means that only US, EU and Canadian passport holders can access these flights. Hence, this will not be an option for Guyanese and Surinamese locals.
Martinique is pushing hard since it saw a dramatic increase of tourists from North America, and this is mostly due to the airlift that Norwegian commenced from the United States and soon from Canada to the French Caribbean.
From 31 October, Norwegian plans to fly four times weekly from Fort de France, Martinique, to Cayenne, French Guiana. Flights between Guadeloupe and Cayenne will start on November 1 and will operate twice a week on Thursdays and Fridays. Tickets will be put on for sale from €139 one way and inclusive of taxes.
At present, an Air France round trip between Cayenne and Martinique is US$573. Norwegian round trip flights will start at US$345.
The airline is popular for its bargain fares and great service. Free Wi-Fi and a free carry-on piece. Excellent food and beverages are sold on board at reasonable prices. Norwegian will use the Boeing 737-800 on the route.
“After more than 20 years without direct service, Norwegian was the first airline to connect the French Antilles to New York. For three years we have continued our development in the area, and we are now the only company to link both the United States, Canada and French Guiana to the French Antilles,” said Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer at Norwegian.
French Guiana became known for the movie Papillon, which brought global attention to the French penal colony in South America.
Cayenne is served by only four airlines, Azul, Air France, Surinam Airways and Air Caraibes. Surinam Airways will soon end its service. The expansion of airlines like Norwegian will challenge Surinam Airways (SLM) and Caribbean Airlines (CAL).