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We’ve rounded up our Top 5 most-read stories of 2018. From airlines to military to regulatory, these stories drew the most readers over the past year:
1. A New Flair Carrier – During the 2018 ATAC annual conference in November, Skies editor Lisa Gordon sat down with Flair Airlines president Jim Scott to discuss his vision of “aggressive but realistic growth.”
By the end of 2020, Scott is aiming to have 20 Boeing 737-800NGs operating across Canada and into selected U.S. destinations. Flair is aiming to be Canada’s low-cost carrier of choice, and Scott said it all starts with a strong brand.
2. Saab positions Gripen E as Canada’s next-generation fighter – In a May briefing with Skies writer Ken Pole, Saab’s Richard Smith, head of Gripen marketing and sales, discussed worldwide opportunities for the jet.
Canada is one of a number of countries the OEM is targeting as a customer for the Mach 2 delta wing/canard fighter. In February 2018, Saab was approved as one of five potential bidders to supply Canada’s next fleet of fighter jets. The list also included Lockheed Martin’s F-35, Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Dassault Aviation, which makes the Rafale fighter, subsequently removed itself from contention in early November.
3. Transport Canada releases new flight and duty time regs – Transport Canada published the final version of its revised flight and duty time regulations on Dec. 12, despite industry’s calls for further discussion.
The new package of regulations applies to all commercial transport operations in Canada, including major airlines as well as smaller regional operators. Large airlines will have two years to implement necessary regulatory changes, while smaller operators have been given four years to comply. The regulations have been percolating since 2015, and judging from some industry reactions to the announcement, discussions aren’t finished yet.
4. Old story, new ending? In March, Skies contributor Brent Jang wrote about WestJet’s tremendous growth, drawing a comparison to now-defunct Canadian Airlines International.
With WestJet preparing to take delivery of up to 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners starting in 2019, the stage will be set for a domestic rivalry against Air Canada to Asian destinations. WestJet has a bold vision for luring new business and international customers.
5. Managed shortfall – Also in March, Chris Thatcher delved into how the Royal Canadian Air Force is holding onto its best people in the face of a looming pilot and maintainer shortage.
While military members are increasingly lured by the promise of bigger paycheques in commercial aviation, the RCAF is also dealing with the lingering effects of 1990s staffing policies and baby boomer retirements. All of this to say that experienced members are extremely valuable to the organization, so the focus is on retention as well as recruitment.