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Norwegian Air, JetBlue tie up to make transatlantic bookings simpler

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By Victoria Klesty and Terje Solsvik

OSLO (Reuters) – Passengers with Norwegian Air <NWC.OL> and New York’s JetBlue Airways <JBLU.O> will be able to fly between Europe and the United States and make connecting flights on a single booking, under a planned partnership.

Norwegian Air and JetBlue said in a joint statement on Thursday that if agreed the partnership would come into effect in the middle of next year.

Norwegian, Europe’s third-largest budget carrier, has shaken up the market for transatlantic travel with cut-price fares that challenge traditional carriers such as IAG’s <ICAG.L> British Airways, but its breakneck expansion left it with high debts and in the red.

The partnership with JetBlue will connect JetBlue flights from around 100 cities in the Americas to Norwegian’s network in New York, Boston and Fort Lauderdale, from which the carrier serves more than 20 European destinations.

Shares in Norwegian Air, which is cutting costs to try and return to profit, surged 10% on the news before giving up some gains to trade up 4.1% by 1142 GMT, outperforming an Oslo benchmark index <.OSEBX> up 0.6%.

Norwegian already has a European partnership with London Gatwick-based easyJet <EZJ.L>, but until now lacked a U.S. partner.

“Customers will have the possibility to book connecting flights on both airlines’ websites by combining the best of our complementary and expansive networks,” the airlines said.

JetBlue Airways Corp has said that it hopes to break into the low-fare, transatlantic travel market.

“This new agreement … seamlessly connects JetBlue’s robust network throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America with … exciting European destinations,” JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes said in the statement.

(Editing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Mark Potter and Susan Fenton)

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