More than two years of being overlooked by Canada’s ultra low-cost carriers will come to an end in Ottawa this summer when Flair Airlines expands to the nation’s capital.
Ottawa is one of three new destinations for the Edmonton-based carrier in its 2020 summer schedule released Tuesday, with Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Saint John, New Brunswick also joining the list.
Ottawa will see new service to Halifax, Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton, while Charlottetown and Saint John will get new service to Toronto.
“Airlines like Flair have changed the aviation landscape worldwide by delivering lower-cost unbundled fares” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “Every passenger has the choice to pay for the options they value, such as seat assignments, checked bags, as well as in-flight food and beverage. Flair Airlines is a welcome addition to YOW’s offering.”
The airline is freeing up to planes for the new services by dropping service to Abbotsford, British Columbia, leaving the Fraser Valley city to rival Swoop.
“Eastern and Atlantic Canada have long been plagued by high airfares and undesirable service,” said Sarah Riches, Director of Commercial for Flair Airlines, in a statement. “Simply put, they have been paying too much for too little and we believe it’s time for change.”
Flair is also returning to Halifax for the summer, a seasonal service it offered in 2019, with flights from Ottawa and Toronto.
Flair, which has ambitions to carry 1.5 million passengers this year, is in a pitched battle with Westjet-owned Swoop for passengers at the no-frills end of the market.
In Atlantic Canada, Flair and Swoop will compete on flights to Halifax and Charlottetown, though Swoop’s services originate in Hamilton and London, Ontario. Swoop will also serve St. John’s, Newfoundland and Moncton, New Brunswick this summer.
All flights are aboard 189-seat Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. Flair recently released a request for proposals to lease additional aircraft.
Cities with ultra low-cost service can see a major jump in passenger numbers. More than 683,000 passengers used the airport in London, Ontario, a 27% jump from the previous year, propelled by new Swoop services to Halifax, Abbotsford, and Edmonton.
“We are pleased to welcome Flair Airlines as our newest airline partner to Charlottetown,” said Doug Newson, CEO at Charlottetown Airport Authority, which served 383,000 passengers in 2019. “Flair has impressively grown their fleet and route network since their launch in 2017, and we are excited to be a part of this latest expansion into Atlantic Canada.”
Also returning for the summer are flights between Calgary and Kelowna, a route Flair said passengers have been demanding.
Flair uses an unbundled fare model, charging low base fares – such as $79 between Toronto and Saint John – but also charging for every add-on such as seat selection, snacks, carry-on bags, even a printed ticket.
Flair service to Ottawa begins in mid-June, while service to Charlottetown and Saint John will begin in late-June.
The summer schedules leave Montreal and Quebec City as the largest cities without ultra low-cost service.