Canada Jetlines launches low-fare ‘rebellion’

Canada Jetlines says it’s going to start a “rebellion” against high airfares in Canada, with an ambitious plan that could see the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) begin service next spring.

Canada Jetlines plane in flight
Canada Jetlines plans to begin operating in June 2018 with two Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft. Canada Jetlines Image
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Company CEO Stan Gadek announced the plan at a press conference on Monday morning, noting the airline intends to begin operation on June 1, 2018.

“We’re asking everyone to join us in that rebellion, to change the way that Canadians fly in this country,” said Gadek.

Canada Jetlines intends to operate initially out of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport and Region of Waterloo International Airport in southern Ontario, both of which are within short driving distance of Toronto.

The two airports have a catchment area of more that four million people, said Gadek.

“Toronto is a very vibrant market with a very high population, and we believe that this will offer us the best change of success when we get started,” he said.

Canada Jetlines plans to begin operations with two Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft in an all-coach, 189-seat configuration.

Initially, the airline intends to offer flights to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Halifax with those planes, though it has yet to determine which specific airports it will serve in those markets.

Over the past year, Flair has flown 320,000 passengers and completed more than 2,600 flights throughout Canada with a commitment to offering low fares. Flair Airlines will continue to provide Canadians with the most affordable air travel options available and has plans to expand its route network over the coming weeks. Flair Airlines Photo
Flair Airlines, a competitor in the Canadian ULCC market, said it has flown 376,600 passengers on over 3,090 flights since last year. Flair Airlines Photo

The company is terming this a “soft start” that will last 90 days, to demonstrate to Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency that Canada Jetlines is operating in accordance with its procedures and following regulations, said Gadek.

“This is a demonstration period,” he said.

After 90 days, Canada Jetlines intends to add two more aircraft and expand its markets to 14, including St. John’s, N.L.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Orlando, Fla.

“You’re going to see a pattern going forward here of Canada Jetlines not only serving domestic Canadian markets, but also points in the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico,” said Gadek.

Approximately six months after its start date, the airline intends to add two more aircraft for a total of six, said Gadek. At this point, the airline plans to be serving 23 unique “origin and destination or city pair markets” from Hamilton and Waterloo, he said

Winter destinations will include Fort Myers, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla., as well as Cancun, Mexico. Canada Jetlines will be flying to those destinations out of the Toronto area, but also out of Halifax and St. John’s, he said.

WestJet's new ultra-low-cost carrier will be branded separately from the main airline and crew will wear different uniforms. The new service will initially field a fleet of 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, shown here in mainline WestJet livery. WestJet Photo
WestJet’s new ultra-low-cost carrier will be branded separately from the main airline and crew will wear different uniforms. The new service will initially field a fleet of 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, shown here in mainline WestJet livery. WestJet Photo

“In the summertime we’ll be serving domestic Canada, points in the U.S.,” added Gadek.

“In the wintertime, we’ll be shifting capacity to fly deep south, into the Caribbean and Mexico.

“Canada gets cold in the wintertime, and people want to get out of town. And we understand that and realize that, and we’re going to be offering them ultra-low fare service to go to the sun destinations that they seek.”

After 24 months, the airline intends to have 12 aircraft in its fleet, offering ultra-low fares made possible by low costs to the airline.

Gadek predicted Canada Jetlines will have the lowest costs of any airline in Canada and the United States.

“Price is our product,” he said, adding that base fares will be about the same cost as a pair of jeans.

“Jeans come in all sizes and styles and all prices, but these are going to be very affordable jeans.”

He did not say specifically what the base fares will be, but said Canada Jetlines will guarantee its customers the lowest fare in the market.

“We can do that because we will have the absolute lowest costs of any operator, and so if the competition wants to match those fares–great, because the public will win,” said Gadek.

“We will stimulate demand, they will stimulate demand. The difference, though, is that we will make money because we have the ultra-low costs at those low fares.”

Plane in FlyToo livery
FlyToo, an Enerjet Corp. brand, may also enter the fray. Enerjet Image

Additional services will be offered on top of base fares, and Gadek noted ancillary revenue will be an important component of the company’s total revenue uptake.

Canada Jetlines says it is set to become Canada’s “first ultra-low cost carrier airline,” though it is expected to have competition from other players.

Flair Airlines began offering ultra-low fares last year in conjunction with New Leaf Travel. Flair subsequently bought New Leaf and announced on Monday that it will be expanding its route network.

The expansion will see service added to three additional airports: Toronto Pearson, Vancouver International Airport, and Kelowna International Airport.

“The addition of these three airports directly extends our reach into some of Canada’s larger and more popular destinations,” said Chris Lapointe, vice-president of commercial operations for Flair Airlines, in a press release.

“Flair is thrilled to expand and bring with us our low fares and welcome new passengers.”

Tickets are on sale now for flights beginning Dec. 15, 2017, according to the release. Travellers will be able to book flights through to the end of 2018.

“This is just the beginning of many more announcements such as this,” said Lapointe.  “We are adding more aircraft and as we do, our network will grow significantly.”

Flair Airlines said it plans to be operating 12 aircraft by the spring of 2019, adding it has flown more than 376,600 passengers on over 3,090 flights since last year.

WestJet has also announced plans to launch a ULCC airline, and Enerjet Corp. also intends to be a player in the market.

As for Canada Jetlines, it remains confident about its success.

“Ultra-low fares are not a luxury. They’re a necessity,” said Gadek.

“Canadians, why are you paying so much for airfare? I don’t understand it. You don’t have to.”

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