The next airline that hopes to pose a threat to Air Canada’s duopoly – WestJet, is due to make its inaugural flight on Thursday.
Canada Jetlines, a new startup airline headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, is set to begin service with two weekly flights from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Calgary International Airport.
The airline said it would hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the arrival of its first flight to Calgary on Thursday morning.
Canada Jetlines considers itself to be an “all-Canadian airline focused on value”. While Toronto Calgary is its only scheduled airline at the moment, the company’s main commercial offering, Duncan’s Office, said the airline plans to serve the leisure market both domestically and across borders with flights to the Caribbean and the Americas.
The office said the company currently has one Airbus A320 and a second to join it in December, with plans to expand its fleet to 15 Airbus A320s by 2025 at a rate of five a year.
Emerging Low Cost Airlines
Air Canada is the newest airline in Canada, but not the first, to emerge in the wake of the pandemic.
Edmonton-based Flair Airlines has expanded significantly in 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 approximately 90 flights per week on nine routes by June, all within Canada.
WestJet also operates its low-cost subsidiary, Swoop, which launched in 2018 and serves destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
While these competitors operate under a low-cost, no-frills model, Canada Jetlines aims to differentiate itself by service in the premium leisure market, the bureau said.
He added that he was critical of the business model used by so-called low-cost airlines such as Flair and Lynx.
“If you get paid at rates below the cost of parking your car at the airport, the economies don’t work and it won’t be sustainable,” the office said.
Canada Jetlines plans to offer a premium customer experience that includes departure times that suit consumer preference over the pilot and 174 seats instead of the standard 180 for added convenience, the office said.
Canada Jetlines advertises on its website introductory fares starting at $99 for one-way flights between Calgary and Toronto for a limited time.
For comparison, Flair offers one-way flights from Calgary to Toronto for $49, the same route starts at $99 on a Lynx and you can fly from Edmonton to Toronto for $59 with Swoop, according to the companies’ websites.
Rick Erickson, an independent aviation analyst in Calgary, said the pandemic’s destruction of the mainstream aviation sector is making it possible for emerging airlines to get grounded and inactive planes at a good price.
Such is the case for Air Canada, where the pandemic has paved the way for the airline to hire available talent and acquire aircraft at low cost.
“I think the people that will survive will be the ones with the deepest pockets. It generally takes 18 to 24 months for new airlines to start making profits, so with all these new players entering the market, the question is who has the deepest pockets and who has the deepest pockets. Best business plan?” Erickson said.
The bureau said Canada Jetlines plans to offer the service in the US within the next three months although any official offers and dates have yet to be announced.
Canada Jetlines is an independent airline that is publicly traded on the NEO Stock Exchange.