Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair is planning a major domestic expansion in its summer 2021 schedule
Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair will add 14 cities in its summer 2021 schedule, including seven cities it has not served before. In doing so, the airline is banking on a loosening of travel restrictions imposed because of COVID-19.
“We strongly support the need for restricting non-essential travel as Canada works to bend the curve,” said Flair President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Jones in a statement. “We are confident, as travel returns, there is a strong market for low fare travel choices from a socially responsible Canadian airline. Flair’s ULCC business model doesn’t have the overhead and costs associated with legacy organizations and networks, and this allows our efficiencies to be passed along in our pricing.”
The airline is returning to seven markets in Western Canada. In essence, the cities served as stops as Flair carried passengers between Toronto and Vancouver. Flair suspended service to all but Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto as the COVID crisis deepened this winter.
On top of that, Flair is adding seven cities where its aircraft have not yet been seen.
Flair cities, launch dates, weekly flightsWhere Flair plans to fly in the summer 2021 with the service launch date and planned weekly flights.
|City||Service starts||Weekly departures|
|Prince George||May 3||4|
|Ft. McMurray||May 1||4|
|Saint John||May 1||2|
|Thunder Bay||June 3||3|
But Flair is making its biggest move in Central and Eastern Canada.
The airline is adding service to Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Halifax, Charlottetown, and Saint John, New Brunswick. The move into Atlantic Canada likely won’t happen until provinces ease travel restrictions. Provincial governments have banned most non-essential travel into the region in a bid to stop the spread of COVID. Air Canada and Westjet have each suspended dozens of routes in Atlantic Canada as a result. But airlines are banking on growing vaccination programmes to encourage governments to ease restrictions and help re-start travel.
“Canadians have been separated from their families and friends throughout the pandemic,” said Joyce Carter, the President and CEO of Halifax-Stanfield International Airport. “And we are confident there will be demand for a variety of flight options when non-essential air travel resumes. We look forward to welcoming Flair back to Halifax Stanfield, increasing choices for our community members to reconnect when the time is right.”
Flair planned a similar eastward expansion for 2020, but had to drop the idea when the pandemic hit.
Aggressive move into Ontario
Perhaps Flair’s biggest impact will be felt in Kitchener-Waterloo, about an hour west of Toronto. Flair will launch 18 weekly flights to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Halifax. Overnight, it will become the largest carrier in the the city. Westjet currently serves Kitchener from its Calgary hub while Sunwing offered flights to sun destinations.
“We are pleased to welcome Flair Airlines to the Region of Waterloo International Airport,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, the addition of Flair’s services will provide further connectivity to other economic hubs, create local jobs, build partnerships and help support the recovery of the local economy.”
It’s not the first ULCC route into Southern Ontario, however. Rival Swoop flew from Edmonton, Halifax, and Abbotsford to London, Ontario in 2019.
Flair will also launch service from Ottawa with 26 weekly departures. It will be Flair’s third-busiest destination after Toronto and Vancouver. It’s the first foray for a ULCC to the nation’s capital with flights from coast to coast.
Flair is trying to muscle in on Swoop’s turf in the West as well, launching service from Abbotsford, British Columbia. Except for a handful of Air Canada flights, Westjet and its subsidiaries have had the Fraser Valley community all to themselves. Flair will enter the market with 25 weekly flights starting in August.
Flair’s summer route expansion is possible because the airline is bringing on 13 new Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Jones told Western Aviation News that his airline was looking for airport partners to help rebuild domestic travel. While no terms were released, it’s clear he found those partners.
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