Flair Airlines

Flair opens new front in ultra low-cost battle

A Flair Boeing 737-400 in the airline’s old livery departs Vancouver International Airport in 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

Edmonton-based Flair Airlines is opening a new offensive in its ongoing battle with rival Swoop, launching a Canada-wide travel pass for as little as $500 plus taxes.

“We are thrilled to offer our passengers the freedom and flexibility to travel with our unlimited pass,” said Sarah Riches, Director of Commercial for Flair Airlines. “Whether you are a student who needs to visit home, a small business owner on a budget, a family needing to connect or an adventure seeker looking for your next thrill; all Canadians deserve to travel without hesitation.”

The three-month passes come in two versions: the less expensive one costs $499 with no flights on Fridays or Sundays and with blackout dates during peak travel times; the more expensive “unlimited” pass provides more flexibility and a checked bag.

Passes are valid February 13 – May 13, though restrictions do apply.

The passes approximate offerings from full service airlines, such as Air Canada, though Canada’s largest carrier aims its passes squarely at frequent business travellers.

Flair said it flew close to a million passengers in 2019, and plans to fly 1.5 million this year. The airline grew too fast, and in early 2019, was forced to abandon flights to the United States, and change its strategy to fly into Calgary and Toronto, cities that Swoop has avoided due to their status as Westjet hubs.

When the Boeing 737 Max was grounded around the world in March 2019, the supply of older 737-800NG aircraft dried up as carriers scrambled to find capacity. Flair chose at that point to return leased aircraft after it was offered cash to break lease contracts.

With the return of the Max to the air on the horizon – perhaps in June – Flair recently launched a request for proposals to lease additional -800NG aircraft, the plane of choice in Canada’s ultra low-cost sector.