In our Aug/Sept issue, Rob Erdos muses on float flying and we discuss night aerial firefighting. Plus: Air Canada in the pandemic, KF Aerospace at 50 and Canadians in the Battle of Britain.
Launching a Canadian airline is an ambitious undertaking at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. But then again, Quebec’s Nolinor Aviation has always taken the path less travelled, looking for a ray of light in even the darkest skies.
On July 7, 2020, the operator announced the launch of Canada’s newest airline, OWG – Off We Go. Operating from Montreal Trudeau and Toronto Pearson, it will serve southern destinations with three newly upgraded Boeing 737-400 aircraft.
“Every time we enter a new market with Nolinor, some people say why are they doing that? Yes, there is a crisis right now, but there are also many opportunities,” said Marco Prud’homme, president of OWG and Nolinor Aviation.
He told Skies the idea for the airline has been percolating since the summer of 2018.
“We realized that most of our business was related to the northern mining industry. We saw risk in that, and we wanted to diversify and go into another market.”
For a whole year, a team of five people examined the options. Eventually, Nolinor came up with the OWG name and identified the new operation’s core values.
“We will be a high-love airline,” explained Prud’homme. “Many people have tried to define an airline as legacy, low cost, etc. Over the last few years, the big airlines have taken passengers for granted. We will focus on giving attention, care and love to the passenger. We want to make sure the flight is also part of the vacation.”
OWG will operate three 158-seat Boeing 737-400s. One was acquired from Canadian operator Flair Airlines, while one is coming from the U.S. and the third from Spain. The aircraft are undergoing extensive modifications, including complete interior refurbishments. To reduce aircraft weight and increase payload, Nolinor selected Expliseat’s TiSeat E2 seating, billed as the lightest aircraft seat in the world at 40 per cent lighter than other certified seats. Prud’homme said the new seats will allow OWG aircraft to carry more payload than a 737-800.
Service will begin “once the market is ready,” he added. “Our vision is to simply wait and see. We already have our crews, training is already almost finished. If it’s the summer, fall, we’ll wait. Once the rules are clear, we will start flying. We are not in a rush.”
OWG said it received Transport Canada authorization to provide regular international service on July 6.
When asked how OWG’s offering will differ from other Canadian sun carriers, Prud’homme said simply that the new airline will not take passengers for granted.
“We are going to direct our thinking and our actions to care for the passenger. It’s not about pricing; we’re not in a pricing war. We want to make sure people love flying us.”
He said there are no plans to operate from regional airports at this time.
“We are targeting a very niche market and we want to make sure there is a lot of volume there.”
Nolinor Aviation will continue to offer aircraft charters with its remaining fleet, which includes 10 Boeing 737-200s and one 737-300. The latter will be a backup for the OWG fleet, said Prud’homme.