DENVER -- Norwegian Air will launch new routes from Chicago and Denver next summer as part of the low-cost carrier's increased emphasis on the U.S. market.

"We are very much focused on profitability, and that is why we have not been adding much short haul," said Norwegian Air spokesman Anders Lindstrom. "The growth is the U.S., which is our most profitable market." The U.S. is now also Norwegian's largest market, added Lindstrom.

From Denver, Norwegian will fly to Rome next year, joining the carrier's established Denver-Paris and Denver-London service. The flight will be the first by any carrier between Denver and Italian capital. It launches March 31 and continues through Oct. 23, operating thrice weekly for most of that period. 

Norwegian will introduce service from Chicago O'Hare to Paris and Rome for next year's summer season. The routes will join the carrier's established Chicago flights to London and Barcelona. The Paris route begins May 1 and operates through Oct. 24, flying five times per week during peak of summer. Norwegian will fly four times per week between Chicago and Rome from June 2 to Oct. 19. 

Norwegian will compete with United, American and Air France on the Paris route, according to Flight Connection. The Rome flight will compete with American, United and Alitalia.

The new routes are the latest in a string of U.S-related announcements by Norwegian over the past few weeks. 

Last month, the carrier entered into a memorandum of understanding with JetBlue to interline on connecting Europe-U.S./Latin America/Caribbean itineraries through JetBlue's three largest focus cities: New York, Boston and Fort Lauderdale. Norwegian also recently announced summer seasonal service between Austin and Paris.

And, the carrier launched its first co-branded credit card for the U.S. market. Customers can use the Mastercard to earn Norwegian Reward points.

The focus on U.S. and seasonal routes are components of Norwegian's strategy to achieve profitability, Lindstrom said. Norwegian lost $170.3 million in 2018 and has been forced to take steps to strengthen its balance sheet. In October, Norwegian entered into a joint venture with a subsidiary of the China Construction Bank Corp. to finance, own and lease aircraft that Norwegian has on order. The partnership will reduce Norwegian's committed capital expenditures by approximately $1.5 billion, the carrier said.

Last week, Norwegian said it had raised an additional $150 million through a convertible bond issue and a private sale of equity. The company now says it is fully funded through 2020.

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