Jim Scott retires from Flair after three years at the helm
Airline goes global for a replacement, naming Stephen Jones to lead in a year of tumult for the industry
Edmonton-based ultra low-cost carrier Flair has announced a leadership shakeup as the global pandemic continues to roil the industry.
The airline announced chief executive Jim Scott’s retirement after nearly three years at the helm. Stephen Jones, an international airline veteran, has been named as his replacement. Scott will stay on as a shareholder of the privately-held airline.
Jones joins Flair after a one-and-a-half year stint at Wizz Air, where he was a Managing Director. Wizz is a Hungarian ultra low-cost carrier with operations in 46 European countries. Jones left Wizz Air in June for “personal reasons.”
An engineer by training, Jones is familiar with Canada. In 1991, he worked three years in Vancouver with New Zealand-based Fletcher Challenge Utilities as a developer. In 2001, he joined Air New Zealand as the vice president of investor relations. After stints in various departments, he left Air New Zealand as the airlines chief strategy, networks, and alliances officer.
“I am extremely excited to be joining Flair Airlines at this stage of its journey,” said Jones in a statement. “Throughout my career, I have seen the meaningful economic and human impact a ULCC can have on a society; I am privileged to join the Flair team in their mission to do the same in Canada.”
Jones takes on the leadership of Flair at a tumultuous time for the industry. After scaling back to minimal service this summer, Flair has recently expanded its Canadian schedule. It now links Vancouver and Toronto 10 times a week, with intermediate stops in cities along the way – all of them in Western Canada.
The company said in a release that Jones was well suited for Flair because his “relentless focus on cost will accelerate Flair’s mission to make airfare more egalitarian in Canada.”
Jones is the second new airline executive during the pandemic. In April, Steven Greenway announced he was stepping down from rival Swoop and heading back to the United Kingdom. Parent company Westjet named Charles Duncan as his replacement.
Duncan outlined the challenges facing low-cost carriers in an interview. “The booking to date that we’re getting is entirely within four weeks,” he said. Since then, other airlines have made similar statements.
Jones might be a perfect fit for Flair as it emerges from the pandemic. Former colleague Charles Wagner wrote in praise of Jones on his Linkedin account. “When our strategy or execution plans became derailed by uncontrollable events,” he said “[Jones] was able to successfully adapt, innovate and continue on a more successful path.”
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