The next airline that hopes to pose a threat to the Air Canada-WestJet duopoly is set to make its maiden flight on Thursday.
Airlines of Canadaa new start-up airline headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, is expected to begin offering twice-weekly flights between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Calgary International Airport.
The airline said it will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion when its first flight arrives in Calgary on Thursday morning.
Canada Jetlines markets itself as an “all-Canadian, value-driven leisure carrier.” Although Toronto-Calgary is its only scheduled route at present, the company’s main commercial offer, Duncan Bureau, said the airline plans to serve the leisure market both domestically and transborder with flights to the Caribbean and the Americas.
The airline currently has one Airbus A320 and a second to join in December, with plans to expand the fleet to 15 Airbus A320s by 2025 at the rate of five aircraft per year, Bureau said.
Canada Jetlines is Canada’s newest airline, but not the first, to emerge in the wake of the pandemic.
Edmonton-based Flair Airlines has grown aggressively over the past year and a half and now serves 36 airports with 85 routes and a fleet of 18 aircraft.
Calgary-based Lynx, formerly known as Enerjet, launched last spring and said at the time it hoped to operate nearly 90 flights a week on nine routes by June, all within Canada .
WestJet also operates its own low-cost airline subsidiary, Swoop, which launched in 2018 and offers service to destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
While these competitors operate on a low-cost, no-frills model, Canada Jetlines aims to differentiate itself with service in the high-end leisure market, Bureau said.
He added that he was critical of the business model used by so-called low-cost carriers like Flair and Lynx.
“If you’re charging fares below the cost of parking your car at the airport, the economy just doesn’t work and it’s not sustainable,” Bureau said.
Canada Jetlines plans to offer a premium experience for customers that includes departure times that match consumer versus pilot preference and 174 seats instead of the standard 180 to provide increased comfort, Bureau said.
On its website, Canada Jetlines is announcing introductory fares starting at $99 one-way between Calgary and Toronto for a limited time.
To compare, Flair offers one-way from Calgary to Toronto for $49, the same route starts at $99 on Lynx, and you can fly from Edmonton to Toronto for $59 with Swoop, according to the companies’ websites.
The pandemic’s ravages in the traditional airline industry are allowing startup airlines to get parked and idle planes at a good price, said Rick Erickson, a Calgary-based independent aviation analyst.
This is the case for Canada Jetlines, as the pandemic has paved the way for the airline to hire available talent and acquire aircraft at low cost.
“I think the ones that survive will be the ones with the deepest pockets. It usually takes 18 to 24 months for new airlines to start making a profit, so with all these new players coming into the market, the question is “who has the deepest pockets and who has the best business plan?” Erikson said.
Bureau said Canada Jetlines plans to offer service to the United States within the next three months, although official offers and dates have yet to be announced.
Canada Jetlines is an independent airline listed on the NEO Exchange.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 22, 2022.