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During a Sept. 28 press conference, Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones shared ambitious growth plans for the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) heading into next year. The airline intends to add seven new 737 Max 8 aircraft to its current fleet of 20 737s, which are to enter service for the summer of 2023, bringing the total fleet to 27.
The seven aircraft are part of Flair’s December 2021 announcement that it would lease 14 737 Max 8 aircraft from a mix of lessors. That order was in addition to Flair’s earlier announcement in January 2021 that it would lease 13 new Max 8 aircraft from 777 Partners. The airline is ultimately hoping to reach 50 aircraft by the 2025-26 timeframe.
The new aircraft will allow Flair to increase frequencies on 41 routes for its summer 2023 schedule, which the airline has partially released. A few examples of Flair’s frequency increases include its Vancouver to Toronto route, which will see an additional 10 weekly frequencies for a total of 21, as well as its Calgary to Toronto route, which will also ramp up to 21 weekly frequencies.
The airline said in a press release that new route announcements are still expected in the coming months, “which will bring Flair to 50 percent growth for the summer.”
The new routes and additional aircraft mean more jobs across several roles, including pilots, flight attendants, ground handling crews, etc. While the new aircraft are to be spread across Flair’s Canadian bases, the carrier said roughly 350 jobs will be created across the country.
The news of Flair’s growth plans comes roughly four months after the validity of the airline’s operating license was in question, following concerns raised by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) that Flair may have violated foreign ownership rules.
Flair worked with the CTA over a two-month period to address all the concerns raised, and on June 1, the CTA issued its final determination stating that Flair is, indeed, Canadian.
With that battle now behind the carrier, Flair is on track to become Canada’s third-largest airline measured by seats flown, thanks to its expanded service plans. The carrier noted that there are now 4.2 million seats available to book next summer.
“We’re looking ahead to another busy summer next year,” said Garth Lund, chief commercial officer at Flair Airlines.
Calgary-based ULCC Lynx Air also made an announcement on Sept. 28, stating that it is expanding into the United States with the addition of Orlando, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas to its network.
The new carrier, which was first announced to the public in November 2021, currently flies to 10 destinations across Canada, utilizing a fleet of six Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
While Lynx CEO Merren McArthur confirmed last year that the goal is to grow the carrier’s fleet to 46 737s over seven years, Lynx has not confirmed whether any new aircraft are to be added to the current fleet ahead of the launch into the U.S.
Lynx will begin flying to the U.S. on Jan. 27, 2023, with its Toronto to Orlando route. Heading into February, the carrier will launch the remainder of its new routes out of Calgary, starting with Calgary to Phoenix on Feb. 7, Calgary to Los Angeles on Feb. 16, and Calgary to Las Vegas on Feb. 24.
“With winter approaching, we know Canadians love to travel south in search of warmer weather,” said McArthur. “We are thrilled to be offering an ultra-affordable option to four of the most popular sun destinations in the United States.”
Lynx’s inaugural flight, from Calgary to Vancouver, took place on April 7, 2022, and the airline said it expected to operate 148 flights per week across Canada by the summer of 2022 — which equates to more than 27,000 seats per week. Once flights to all four of Lynx’s U.S. destinations begin, the airline said it will be operating 5,292 seats per week to and from the U.S. from its Toronto and Calgary hubs.
While ULCC competitors Flair and Swoop are already serving destinations in the U.S., this announcement seems to be a natural move for Lynx.
The airline said tickets for its new U.S. destinations are on sale as of today.