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TORONTO — Airline pilot and Canada Jetlines founder and former CEO Jim Scott has taken over the reins of Flair Airlines, in a major corporate shake-up in Canada’s burgeoning ultra low-cost carrier market.
Scott was announced today as Flair’s new CEO, bringing with him extensive airline operational experience. He is joined by Jerry Presley, the company’s new Executive board Chairman, to represent the majority stakeholder investment group.
The news comes six months after the purchase of NewLeaf Travel Company’s assets in June 2017. Flair Airlines founder and former president Jim Rogers has sold his shares, but will remain on the advisory council until 2019.
Scott was one of the co-founders of Canada Jetlines and was CEO of that company from 2012 to 2017. Both Jetlines and WestJet’s Swoop, both ultra low-cost carriers, are aiming to launch this summer.
Now onboard with Flair Airlines, Scott says he is looking forward to the challenge of leading the premium ULCC. “We will drive forward significant improvements in customer experience, operate with reliability and execute with an impressive team in a competitive market.”
Scott’s appointment was announced at a press conference today at The National Club in Toronto.
Along with Scott’s appointment as CEO, Flair Airlines also has expansion goals with U.S. routes this spring, and a mission: to offer “affordable fares and exceptional customer service” and to make the airline Canada’s premium ultra low-cost carrier of choice, says Scott.
Flair has been in business for more than a dozen years as a charter carrier, and has five planes, with four now operating scheduled flights on its 7-city Canadian network including Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Abbotsford, Kelowna and Vancouver. The Toronto, Vancouver and Kelowna flights launched in December 2017.
Flair expects to fly nearly one million passengers in 2018, and is aiming for 1.5 million in 2019.
The carrier has two more planes coming in the next 60 days, taking its fleet to seven. Flair will also be looking at a public offering within the next three to five years, says Scott.
Flair is also accessible via GDS. Already live with Amadeus, Flair will also go live with Travelport (Worldspan/Galileo) in mid-February and is in final negotiations with Sabre.
Some 70% of Flair’s passengers are Millennials and the rest are families, says Scott. “Flair Airlines’ journey into the future has just taken off,” says Scott. “We will be reducing our costs internally by 20%, we are structuring our route network for greater efficiencies and expanding our fleet and route network, and in the next 60 days we will be adding two new planes.”
Scott adds that with Flair’s premium ultra low-cost carrier model, premium products, like 35” pitch seats at the front of the plane, will be available for purchase at the passenger’s discretion. “We want every ancillary revenue experience to be something that you feel like you got value from,” he said.
He added: “We want customers to realize that we’re a quality brand with affordable airfares. If you don’t have a trusted brand and if you don’t treat your customers right, you won’t fill the planes.
“We need to have that word of mouth, and the only way you get that is by taking care of your customers.”
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Click here to read Part 2.