Flair to add 14 aircraft


Flair will have 20 aircraft in the fleet by next summer, with the rest arriving in 2023

A Flair Boeing 737 Max 8 lands at Abbotsford International Airport August 3, 2021 (Brett Ballah).

Canadian ultra low-cost carrier Flair announced plans to add 14 leased aircraft to its fleet. The decision will more than double the airline’s size in a year and a half.

“I think it’s a hell of an exciting time,” said Flair chief executive Stephen Jones in a conference call. Just months after he was hired, Jones set an ambitious target to reach 50 aircraft within five years. Wednesday’s announcement is part of that plan.

“I think what we saw over the summer, when in particular August when things felt a little more free, the demand for travel just surged,” said Jones. As a private company, Flair does not report financial data, but executives say summer loads were in excess of 90%. “These aircraft in this order that are for delivery in the mid-to-late summer of next year and 2023. And so it’s our belief that by that time, the vaccination rates will be such and the pandemic will be under much more control than it has been, and that demand is going to rocket.”

But uncertainty reigns in aviation, with countries adjusting the rules in response to new COVID-19 varia

“We’ll deal with that at the time,” said Jones. “The airline is well practiced dealing with shocks and we’ll manage ourselves accordingly.”

Sticking with the Max-8, for now

Flair currently has 12 aircraft in the fleet, all leased from 777 Partners – a Miami-based leasing company. The airline is speaking with a variety of lessors for its new order. The new aircraft will be 189-seat Boeing Max 8, though Jones would love to get his hands on high-density 8200 variants when they become available.

Jones plans to announce precise details how the aircraft will be deployed in the new year. The airline launched service to the U.S. and Mexico in 2021 and indicated service to the Caribbean is in the works.

“We will feed the good performers,” said Jones, singling out Kitchener-Waterloo as a strong-performing market.

“We will be adding depth in terms of expanding the number of frequencies on existing routes,” said Chief Operating Officer Garth Lund. “On top of that, you’ll also see new destinations coming in. And that’ll be in Canada, but also expanding further in the U.S.”

Flair will create more than 1,000 new jobs when the aircraft are all in service, said Jones.

“We’ll be expanding in Toronto next year, we’ve seen very good demand there,” said Lund. He said Flair would also add aircraft to bases in Edmonton and Vancouver.

Flair has come under regulatory and legal scrutiny for its business practices. Regulators are examining whether Flair is controlled by 777 Partners. This would be a violation of Canadian law, which requires airlines to be 51% owned and controlled in Canada.

“I’m very comfortable that Flair Airlines is fully compliant with 58% Canadian-owned,” said Jones. “This is a Canadian company.”

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