General aviation

Flair finds a partner

A Flair Airlines Boeing 737-400, in its original livery, lands at Vancouver International Airport, March 2, 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair Airlines has found an American investor to buy one-quarter of the airline.

Miami-based 777 Partners has bought 25% of Flair, which bills itself as Canada’s only independent ULCC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The financial strength of 777 Partners ensures that Flair is in a stronger position to compete and continue on our strong trajectory for domestic growth while meeting the clear demand for ULCC airline options in Canada,” said Jim Scott, CEO of Flair Airlines.

777 Partners is an investment firm that has invested in a number of different industries. The company owns the name and trademark of now-defunct World Airways, with the intention of launching a long-haul ultra low-cost carrier at some point in the future, “to align with both US and foreign ultra-low cost carriers for interline feed traffic.”

Flair has dropped all service to the United States, including, in a twist, the first service ever to link Edmonton and Miami, and is concentrating on domestic service this summer.

Also this month, 777 Partners’ added a company called Air Black Box to its portfolio. Air Black Box is a tech company whose software allows passengers to arrange connecting flights across different airlines, an important tool for an independent like Flair.

A Flair 737-800 in its new livery before being delivered to Calgary (photo: Flair).

“The aviation sector continues to be ripe for innovation and Flair is well-equipped to provide affordable airfare for Canada’s underserved market,” said Steve Pasko, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of 777 Partners in a statement. “Despite having a strong potential market for ULCCs, Canada lags behind the rest of the world in this space. Through this investment, we want to create a viable alternative for consumers in the region, who have faced a lack of air transportation choice until now.”

777 Partners is also said to help companies reduce costs by sharing staffing, purchasing and back-office management systems and procedures.

Founded in 2005, Flair transitioned to a low-cost carrier in 2017, but had a turbulent year, launching service to the United States, but pulling back when the market didn’t materialize the way the airline expected.

“This significant investment comes at an exciting time for Flair,” said Scott. “Building on the almost one million passengers we have carried in the last 12 months, Flair is leveraging 777’s expertise in the aviation sector to continue scaling our operations, as evidenced by plans to introduce four new airplanes to our fleet this year.”

The first company-branded 737-800 arrived at a maintenance base in Calgary last week.

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