Flair Airlines

Flair taps another Wizz Air executive to fill top role

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Garth Lund will join Flair from European carrier Wizz Air, the second executive to join the airline from one of Europe’s most aggressive ULCCs.

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

New Flair chief executive Stephen Jones is wasting no time recruiting former contacts from outside Canada to bolster the airline’s upper ranks. He has named Garth Lund as the airline’s new Chief Commercial Officer.

Lund joins the airline after seven years at Wizz Air. There, he worked in increasingly senior roles until topping out as Wizz’s Head of Financial Planning and Controlling. Jones also worked at Wizz before taking the reins at Flair October 13.

Lund will be responsible for all of Flair’s commercial functions, such as network planning, scheduling, and pricing.

“I am very excited to join Flair Airlines at the beginning of its growth journey,” said Lund in a statement. “Canadian customers have long been denied the benefits of a real ULCC and Flair Airlines has a compelling mission to fill this gap. I look forward to being a part of helping Flair Airlines reach its full potential.”

Flair was in a pitched battle with Westjet subsidiary Swoop before the pandemic hit. Since then, both airlines saw their schedules cut to the bone as passengers abandoned travel.

Late this summer, Flair introduced an ambitious expansion, adding flights to cities that had never seen ULCC service, such as Regina, Ft. McMurray, and Prince George. Late last week, however, Flair management told those same airports that it was withdrawing service for at least two months.

Ambitious growth plans

In an October interview, Jones set an ambitious 50-aircraft target for Flair. He did not put a timeline to his ambition, though Lund’s hiring could indicate the airline sees opportunity coming out of the pandemic. Wizz Air has been one of the most aggressive European ULCCs since March. It’s reestablishing service and opening new bases in a bid to gain market share.

Wizz follows a typical ULCC model, flying densely-packed aircraft to popular destinations, keeping costs low and charging for each additional service a passenger wants.

Normally, ULCCs fly point-to-point services, a model Flair has abandoned during the pandemic. Instead, Flair has generally used its aircraft between Toronto and Vancouver with a stop along the way.

The appointment also raises new questions about the choice of aircraft to meet Jones’ target. Flair currently flies a small fleet of leased Boeing 737-800NG aircraft. Wizz flies an all-Airbus fleet, with a mix of A320 and A321LRs. Jones has said he’s open to either type for the airline’s future fleet.

As CCO, Lund will have a large role in the selection of future aircraft.

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