By Alison Fox
November 12, 2019

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air is expanding its nonstop service with new European flights planned between Chicago and Denver, according to the airline.

Starting in the spring, Norwegian said it will add nonstop service from Chicago to Paris and Rome as well as from Denver to Rome — the first direct flight from the Mile High City to Italy. The expansion comes as budget airlines have hit some financial snags, but an expert said that these routes are right in Norwegian’s wheelhouse.

“The U.S. is now our largest and most important source market and we will continue to invest in expanding our network to offer more nonstop service to highly sought-after European destinations,” SVP Commercial at Norwegian, Matthew Wood, said in a statement. “As we know we’re becoming a beloved brand in America, we want to consistently strive to provide the best quality of service coupled with unbeatable fares. Rome and Paris are great additions to our growing presence in Chicago and Denver and we look forward to welcoming new and existing travelers onboard next summer.”

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Norwegian will use its 787-9 Dreamliner for the new routes, which will be seasonal. In Chicago, Norwegian said the new route will launch May 1 to Paris and operate five times per week through Oct. 24, with the Rome route launching June 2 and operating four times per week through Oct. 19.

For Denver, the new Rome route will launch on March 31 and operate through October 23, with three flights per week during the summer.

“This nonstop connection to Italy further solidifies Denver’s strong position in the global economy as both a business and tourism hub,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement.

Additionally, Norwegian operates direct flights from Chicago to Barcelona and London, and from Denver to London and Paris. JetBlue and Norwegian also recently announced an agreement that allows passengers to transfer between the two airlines, set to launch in the summer of 2020.

Airfare is cheaper than ever, but budget airlines have struggled in recent years with both WOW Air and Primera Air each suddenly going out of business, stranding passengers (for what it’s worth, just last week a former WOW Air executive said he will start his own airline).

“The airline does have some financial headwinds, but these new routes from Chicago and Denver do fit the carrier’s profile,” Ben Mutzabaugh, the senior aviation editor for The Points Guy, told Travel + Leisure, in an email about Norwegian. “Of course, many people will think of WOW Air or other European discounters that abruptly went out of business recently. Norwegian does have some challenges to its business model, but its recent strong quarter gives it some breathing room.”

Mutzabaugh added that while it is normal for airlines “to tinker with routes” and that is seemingly what Norwegian is doing, he warned that it may be a good idea to purchase trip insurance nonetheless.

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