Casting aside operational problems this winter, Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair Airlines reported a 92% load factor in a pared-down summer schedule.
Flair flew only domestic routes to destinations between Halifax and Vancouver, a strategy it has pushed into the winter season. The airline dramatically scaled back services this year after its previous operations proved too ambitious.
“We are delighted with the rapidly growing number of Canadians who have flocked to Flair this summer” said Flair CEO Jim Scott in a statement.
Flair hit the reset button this spring after serving almost a million passengers in its first year of scheduled operations.
The airline was forced to abandon routes to the United States this winter after slow seat sales hurt the overall performance. It also dropped a strategy where all east-west traffic was funnelled through its Edmonton hub.
Instead, Flair went into Toronto and Calgary, cities where its main rival – Westjet-owned Swoop – would not fly. Westjet maintains significant hub operations in both cities.
The 92% load factor would indicate that the new domestic strategy is working. Though Flair did not report a specific passenger count, Scott said the airline welcomed “many” return customers. The impressive performance may also have been helped by factors outside Flair’s control.
All of Canada’s airlines are expected to report monstrous load factors this summer due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. While neither has reported its summer results, both Air Canada and Westjet operate the type, and have had to make up for its absence by cancelling flights, substituting aircraft, and packing their planes as full as possible.
Flair has added three leased Boeing 737-800NG aircraft to the fleet, and as each new plane joins the fleet, an older 737-400 is phasing out.
While no specifics have been announced, Flair has vowed to resume flying to the U.S., and said the newer 737-800s, “will open up a number of exciting southern destinations offered at accessible rates.”