ULCC Flair is “well on track” for 50 aircraft by 2025, says CEO Jones

ULCC Flair is “well on track” for 50 aircraft by 2025, says CEO Jones

TORONTO — As travel fully reopens, Canada’s airlines are jostling for position and Flair Airlines is no exception.

Finally free of questions about whether or not it’s sufficiently Canadian to operate in Canada, the ultra low-cost carrier announced yesterday it plans to increase its capacity by 50% for summer 2023, with seven new aircraft joining the fleet, and increased frequencies on 41 routes.

Flair’s growth plan is 50 aircraft by 2025, “and we’re well on track for that,” said CEO Stephen Jones. The company now has more than 1,000 employees.

Yesterday’s news, via video conference, is phase 1 of Flair’s plans for next summer, outlining additional frequencies into existing markets. Phase 2, with new destinations, will be announced in due course.


“GANGBUSTER SUMMER”

Flair and other ULCCs aren’t known for working with travel agents, and for that reason most travel retailers give them a pass. But their low fares impact pricing on routes where they compete with traditional carriers.

ULCC Flair is “well on track” for 50 aircraft by 2025, says CEO Jones

Stephen Jones

Jones said Flair had a “gangbuster summer” as more and more Canadians travelled.

At the same time he acknowledged that the staff shortages and long delays at Canada’s biggest airports, along with more than a few flight cancellations, were an issue for Flair just like every other airline.

“We had a tough July, and we apologize to all who were impacted,” said Jones. “August and September have been better. Looking ahead, load factors are high, bookings are very strong, and travel is really starting to gain momentum.”

Notable frequency increases  for Flair for summer 2023 include Vancouver – Toronto, which will see an additional 10 weekly frequencies for a total of 21, as well as Calgary – Toronto, which also ramp up to 21 weekly frequencies.

Service from Montreal to Toronto has also increased with an additional eight weekly frequencies, bringing the total to 12. Flair says summer favourites will also return with increased frequencies, including Nashville and Deer Lake, as well as year-round service to Mexico.


OVERCAPACITY QUESTIONS

All in all, by summer 2023 Flair will have 27 aircraft, and 28 cities (including seven in the U.S.) and 77 routes in its network.

Flair’s not alone with its expansion plans, not by far. New entrants including Canada Jetlines (which works with travel advisors) and Lynx Air are working to win market share. Porter Airlines has expansion plans of its own. Add to the list Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat, and it’s clear Canada’s air travellers are well-served.

Maybe too well-served? Jones doesn’t think so. Asked if there’s room in the Canadian market for so many carriers, Jones said: “We see the overall leisure market in Canada as very large. We’re getting people to fly more often, and to new destinations. We’re comfortable with the flight plans we have. We focus on our game and the others will do what they do.”

Jones added that the complete elimination of Canada’s remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions effective Oct. 1, 2022 “is going to be a tremendous relief for travellers across the country.”

Jones was also asked about WestJet Group’s proposed acquisition of Sunwing, subject to regulatory approval. “We see that it’s a reduction in competition. And we do expect the regulators will do their job and protect competition.”