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Norwegian Air still open to flight connection deal with Ryanair - CEO

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Norwegian Air still open to flight connection deal with Ryanair - CEO

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By Alana Wise NEW YORK (Reuters) – Norwegian Air Shuttle <NWC.OL> on Wednesday said it was still open to the possibility of a future flight connection agreement with budget carrier Ryanair <RYA.I>, just days after the two European rivals ended talks to establish a long-haul flight deal. “We haven’t excluded Ryanair,” Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Kjos told Reuters in New York, praising the short-haul Irish carrier for its presence in smaller markets. Deals with U.S.- and Asia-based low-cost carriers are also likely in Norwegian’s future, Kjos added, as the fast-growing Scandinavian carrier seeks to expand its growing network. Until Monday, Norwegian and Ryanair had been in discussions to reach a flight connection agreement that would give Ryanair’s short-haul customers access to long-haul Norwegian flights. In turn, Norwegian Air passengers would be better connected to the carrier’s hubs. The deal would have been similar to an earlier agreement reached between Norwegian and UK-based easyJet plc <EZJ.L>. Talks dissolved earlier this week, however, amid accusations by both carriers of staff poaching and public disputes over Norwegian’s financial strength. “Ryanair is very good in the secondary cities … but have practically no presence in London where we fly – at Gatwick – and no presence at Paris,” Kjos said. “So the main airports that we fly to, easyJet is much stronger. Because they concentrate, like we, on the main airports. Ryanair has for a long time only concentrated on secondary airports.”

(Reporting by Alana Wise, editing by G Crosse)
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