Air Canada

Flair sets a rendez-vous with Montreal

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Flair becomes the first ultra low-cost carrier to test the market in Montreal

A Flair Boeing 737-800NG departs Vancouver International Airport in February 2020 (Brett Ballah).

Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair is going where no other ulcc has gone before: Montreal.

“We are excited to bring ULCC service to Montreal and to provide our low fares to a region where Canadians have been paying far too much for far too long,” says Stephen Jones, Flair’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Providing affordable air travel within Canada is an essential first step in restarting travel and tourism. We know there is a need for ULCC service in Montreal and are thrilled to bring our low fares to the area.”

The airline is planning service from Quebec’s largest city to Toronto, Halifax, and Vancouver starting in early July. Air Canada dominates the market to all three cities from its Montreal hub. It will add service to Abbotsford a few weeks later. That will be the first connection between the two cities.

The move expands the airline’s ambitious summer plans and gives it inroads into French Canada. Flair is adding 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the coming months, capitalizing on the aircraft’s ready availability due to the pandemic. It also signals a growing confidence in a looming post-pandemic recovery.

“We know there will be a need for affordable airfare once it is safe for us to travel again,” said Jones in a statement. “Families and friends are eagerly waiting to connect, and Flair is here to ensure they can afford to fly once it is safe again to travel.”

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A tough market

Montreal is a tough domestic market to crack. It is heavily dominated by Air Canada, which, in normal times, connects Montreal to most major North American cities and a vast European and Asian network. Transat, with its headquarters in Montreal, also operates a large international network from the city. Again, that’s in normal times. That domination could get worse if a proposed merger passes.

Unusual among Canadian airports, Montreal is heavily tilted towards international travel, even during the pandemic. The Canadian government continues to restrict most international travel into the country. It also requires negative COVID tests before catching an international flight and again on arrival. Despite that, Montreal recorded 170,000 international passengers in January and February, compared to just 153,958 domestic passengers.

A group of Quebec business people is trying to help solve Montreal’s domestic challenges. They are launching TREQ. It’s a co-op conceived to connect the province’s regions with the metropolis.

“Recent decades have shown that the current private, for-profit model, doesn’t meet the needs of Quebec regions and their citizens,” the company says on its website. “It’s time to take charge of this essential tool for the development of our regions.”

RouteService BeginsFrequency
YUL-YVR01-July-21M, Tu, Th, F, Sa, Su
YUL-YYZ01-July-21Daily
YUL-YHZ03-July-21M, W, Sa, Su
YUL-YXX03-Aug-21Tu, W, Sa

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