Fascinating New 737 Transatlantic Route: Paris To Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Over the years we’ve seen a lot more “long and thin” routes become possible thanks to smaller, more fuel efficient planes. For example, the 787 has made it possible for JAL to start service between Tokyo and San Diego, while the 737 MAX has made it possible for Norwegian to start service between Stewart (in New York) and Europe.

We’ve seen a lot of creative new routes lately, though the one that was just announced might just be the most interesting yet. I don’t want to call it “random” since the link between the cities is clear, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a self-governing territory of France, situated in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, near Newfoundland and Labrador. The islands cover an area of about 93 square miles, and have a population of just about 6,000 people. This is quite a small territory.

While Saint Pierre and Miquelon is close to Newfoundland and Labrador, it has very limited air service. No Canadian airlines fly there, but rather just Air Saint-Pierre. The airline has a fleet consisting of a single aircraft, which is an ATR42.

Well, Saint Pierre and Miquelon is about to get a lot more access, as the airport is getting a seasonal nonstop link to Paris.

In the summer of 2018 (between July 2 and August 21), there will be a once weekly nonstop flight between Saint Pierre and Miquelon and Paris Charles de Gaulle. The route will be operated by an ASL Airlines France Boeing 737-700, though the flight will be marketed and sold by Air Saint-Pierre. The flight will operate westbound on Mondays and eastbound on Tuesdays, as follows:

Paris to Saint Pierre and Miquelon departing 6:00PM arriving 8:30PM
Saint Pierre and Miquelon to Paris departing 12:30PM arriving 10:05PM

As you can see, the plane sits on the ground in Saint Pierre for quite a while. This is clearly so that the crew can get their rest and operate the flight back the next day, rather than making them stay there for over a week. I imagine the airline was able to get a decent deal on parking at the airport for 16 hours. 😉 It’s also interesting since this is an eastbound daytime flight, which is fairly rare.

The flight covers a distance of ~2,700 miles in each direction, and the runway is only about 5,900 feet long, so I imagine this flight is right at the limit in terms of being able to takeoff from there for such a long flight.

Tickets for this flight will go on sale on January 2, 2018, and the price will be 1,025EUR roundtrip. That’s really expensive for such a short transatlantic flight, but I guess in reality it’s still cheaper than any other option to fly between the two places, and that’s not even factoring in the massive time savings.

The plane seats about 150 people, and the flight will operate about eight times over the summer, meaning up to 1,200 people will be able to take this flight in each direction. That represents about 20% of the population of the islands, though I guess that doesn’t factor in people who may be visiting from Europe.

Anyone find this route as cool as I do?

(Featured image photo credit: Anna Zvereva)

Comments

  1. As you may not know, and because I’m french. This routes is declared as “ligne d’utilité public” in english, a route with French state money
    ASL and Air Saint Pierre don’t care about the yield and number of people on the plane. One french Airlines have to do this routes, Air France will do this if nobody wants to fly this route, even if Air France doesn’t want to do this route

  2. I went to these islands in the summer about 3 years ago. It’s a fascinating place, markedly different than Newfoundland but just a short boat trip away. We drove down and took the boat over to stay overnight. The novelty of being in Europe in the North Atlantic is the coolest part about going there–but not speaking a lot of French we couldn’t find a lot to do, even on a Saturday night. Great food and wine, though!

  3. This is the only area that France retained after losing the French and Indian War to the British (and their American Colonies) that was part of “New France” i.e. Canada.

  4. Whenever I read San Diego, I think of the Anchorman: “Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s … ”


    As others have said, they won’t care about how much passenger they’ll transport. FWIW St. Pierre and Miquelon have a very poor connection to Canada or the homeland. It would’ve made more sense to have daily flights to major Canadian/US cities and an interline agreement with AF flights from there onwards. Can’t imagine that a short-haul trip + a long haul trip on existing AF flights would have cost >1,000$ that far in advance.

  5. Very interesting route! I read about another one the other week that you might be interested in, Lucky: LOT’s Newark to Rzeszow (RZE) in south-eastern Poland, once weekly over next summer in a 788. It is quite a small airport with the only other mainline services being LOT to WAW and LH Regional to MUC.

  6. I went to St Pierre on the ferry from Newfoundland in July. It was interesting to spend a day there. The French food is incredible and a lobster and foie gras meal cost me just €16. In metropolitan France the dish would cost much more. They also have the only guillotine ever used in North America in a museum.

    While fascinating, I wouldn’t really stay more than a day there.

    Also, the guy working at the tourist information center will make you swoon.

  7. As a frenchman with family tie in saint pierre this is going to make the life of afew people much more easy …. that being said having been there myself I can’t see anyone visiting for a week just for the sake of visiting …. oh well got to see my tax at work at least

  8. I’m a journalist in St Pierre and Miquelon. Some comments :
    As you say, lenght of the runaway is right at the limit to take off. That’s why these 737-700 will not take 120 passengers, but only 100 at each flight.
    The goal is also to develop tourism fore this archipelago, where cods and fishing plants have almost desapeared…
    You’re right, the price of a flight to Europe with stops in Canada is even higher now, up to 1800 euros Go and Return. But keep in mind that flights from “rural” Canada are also very expensive. For exemple, a direct flight St Johns (YYT) to London (LHR), with Air Canada, could easily cost 850 to 1300 euros, depending on the season…

  9. Saves needing an ETA for the transit in YUL from AF to Air St Pierre. I wonder how one ways are priced—I need a flight to CDG this summer…

  10. I’ve always wanted to go to Saint Pierre as it just seemed like a unique off-the-radar place to visit for the summer – it’s just crazy expensive to get there, even from the closer Canadian airports they fly to. Last time I checked a roundtrip from YUL was over USD 600!

  11. The Saint Pierrois and the Canadians do not hate one another as much as the Falklanders and Argentinians, but the RAF also flies between the UK (Brize Norton AFB) and Port Stanley with A330s open to civilians. St Pierre & Miquelon and Canada ARE at war, though, sort of, over fishing rights and they regularly board each other’s ships and jail the crews for a week. According to the French, what is unfair is that Canadian fishermen love the experience as St Pierre’s jail has quite a reputation for good food whether the Canadian side, in Fortune. serves abominable grub.

    A few years ago, Air St Pierre had a Dassault Falcon 50 , a 10-12 passengers tri-jet, which made trips to Toronto and St John’s. I wonder what happened with it. I was not just a VIP plane.

  12. Also, I do not find the schedule / frequency to be very bright. Better do like Latam who times its IPC (Easter Island) flights to let tourists come and spend 2-3 days.

  13. This is, as others have mentioned, the French equivalent of the US’ “Essential Air Service” program. Although I’m sure they’d love to have tourists come from metropolitan France, the majority of fliers on this route are going to be people visiting family (both directions), the odd business traveler, and French bureaucrats.

    The schedule isn’t supposed to make sense except to limit crew downtime.

  14. Awesome- St Pierre and Miqulen is on my list of places to visit .. imagin it would be a good destination is morte regular flights were opened from Montreal too; thank you for the update.

    hope you have recovered from your recent being ‘under the weather’

  15. Yes all of that is also the result of long discussions at either or both the national assembly or the senate in Paris.

    Great to see coming live.

  16. As an Aussie who is a regular visitor to Canada having family there I had never heard about these islands! Certainly giving me somewhere to harass my relatives to take me next time!

  17. @ Max M

    The 737 with most middle seats open (per weight and pax nr limitations) is certainly FAR more pleasant than AA and DL’s 757s over the pond, not to mention it’s the same distance as JFK-SFO.

  18. We went there for an architectural history meeting in 2003 and flew from Halifax. It was a fascinating place. I don’t think you would like the accommodations very much, but the food was superb and the cod drying racks were outstanding.

  19. Interesting.

    I used to own a travel company, and for five years in the early 2000s we were Icelandair’s GSA in Canada. At that time, we had a corporate agreement with the local government of St. Pierre for 50 (economy, but full fare) seats per week from Halifax to Paris.

    Frequently they oversold their allocation, even at this pretty high price.

    So, offering Paris/St. Pierre as a “socially important link / ASL flight”, with the inherent revenue that is there, plus the tourist traffic and other potential, it actually makes a very, very small amount of sense.

    Of course, the public subsidy makes such justifications irrelevant, but there are more officials shuttling back and forth to discuss parking, education, nuclear waste and so on to more than pay the cost of this rather intriguing flight.

    With luck, I will try it !

  20. Reading all comments, I can only highly recommend a visit to the islands and PLEASE do not even THINK about going “for the day” as some one suggests!
    I spent 4 days there a couple of years ago and found it amazingly interesting.
    There is a long history there and the Prohibition years alone are well worth learning about; the lively commerce on the islands as a result (Canada continued to produce whisky for export and sold most of it to these islands) created the fortune of the Bronfman and Kennedy families. Most buildings are built from the timber of the whisky crates left over after trans shipping the bottles in straw in the holds of fishing trawlers. The scenery (visiting both islands) the food, the wine and casual talks with the locals were all most enjoyable. I thought that flying with the local airline was exotic but the new route certainly beats it for (probably short lived) rarity.

  21. IF the plane is really going to do a quick overnight turn around and IF the Saint Pierre Tourist Office is serious about promoting visits to the islands, the thing to do is to negotiate with Air Canada, AF, or WestJet a package including the direct flight from/to Paris one way, and the other way either a regular ASP flight to Montreal or Halifax connecting back to Paris or anywhere else… OR Ferry to Fortune plus Bus drive through Newfoundland to St Johns and then back from St John’s airport. This is a shamefully under-used opportunity: A few years ago, enquiries to the NYC French Tourist Office about St Pierre and Miquelon made them refer you to the Canadian Tourist Office !!! (I am not making this up…)

  22. Score….I just randomly came across this well and it’s a must-do for me this summer. Probably combined with WestJet’s daytime DUB-YYT in the other direction to maximize weirdness! Hey Matthew…when are we going?

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