Air France plans a pair of new Caribbean routes this winter, but perhaps a bit outside the normal range of operations. The carrier will connect Montreal and New York City with its mini-hub at Guadeloupe. The two routes each will operate twice weekly, with an afternoon flight northbound and morning departure southbound the following day.
The new routes come as part of the carrier’s mostly leisure-focused expansion for the season. The updated route plans also include new services from Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports in Paris, plus the extension of some seasonal operations.
Historically Air France operated a Caribbean island hopper service between Miami and French Guiana on an Airbus A320. These flights connected to the carrier’s long-haul network at Guadeloupe, though mostly focused on shuffling travelers among the islands.
In 2017, thanks to a growing relationship with Delta Air Lines, Air France began flights between Guadeloupe and Atlanta. Now it will try to profit from the marginal vacation traffic demand from New York and Montreal.
The New York – Guadeloupe market was tried by Norwegian beginning in 2015. It added flights to Montreal in 2018 as it sought out anything resembling profitable service. JetBlue eventually began to compete, adding flights from JFK in early 2020, just in time for the pandemic to scuttle those plans.
But JetBlue currently has schedules filed to resume service in November, just a couple weeks prior to Air France commencing NYC service.
Air Canada and Transat both intend to serve Montreal-Guadeloupe this winter as well.
One US airline executive previously suggested that the market was far too weak to justify the relatively long stage length. But that was also in the before times, when demand patterns looked rather different. Will last winter’s increased US interest in Caribbean locations carry over to this year’s holiday season?
It will also be interesting to see if the in-flight WiFi service, powered by Anuvu, is enabled and useful on those flights. When Norwegian operated the routes with the similar gear on board the connectivity experience was less than stellar.
We’ll all find out soon enough.
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