Flair Airlines accelerates growth, adding flights to the U.S.

Avatar for Natasha McKentyBy Natasha McKenty | July 8, 2021

Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 49 seconds.

On July 8, 2021, Flair Airlines announced the addition of non-stop, low-fare flights between eight Canadian cities and six U.S. destinations, including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Sanford, Phoenix-Mesa, Hollywood-Burbank, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. Fares will range between $79 to $109 (one-way).

While most of Flair’s pilots have only been utilizing the “east to west direction of the compass,” Flair’s president and CEO, Stephen Jones, is eager to share that Canadians can now look forward to flying north to south – affordably – from smaller, community-driven airports.

Flair Airlines operates under a low-cost business model, offering affordable tickets that aren’t anticipated to increase, even as demand inevitably will. Flair Photo

As Canada’s only independent ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), Flair Airlines operates under a low-cost business model, offering affordable tickets that aren’t anticipated to increase, even as demand inevitably will.

“Our whole business model is about consistently driving down the ticket prices,” said Jones. Wizz Air’s former deputy chief executive officer said the ULCC model works in every part of the world, and “Canada is an outlier [for] not having a true ultra-low-cost carrier.”

The Edmonton-based airline announced that Halifax, Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, and Abbotsford will receive service to various U.S cities starting this October.

Among the new destinations announced, the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) will begin non-stop service, four times weekly, to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando-Sanford, Florida (starting Oct. 31). The U.S. destinations are “in addition to the seven domestic destinations already operating out of YKF, including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Kelowna, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg.”

Jones added: “Flair is very excited to be working with the Region of Waterloo International Airport. . . . [YKF] is a huge catchment area in that region, and the management at the airport are motivated to try and make the region thrive through that using the airport as a tool for economic development.”

YKF hosts 25 businesses, “that together contribute more than $90 million annually to Waterloo Region’s economy.”

“They have the foresight to be able to see that it’s not just about the extra $5 that we get out of an airport landing; it’s actually the ongoing benefits. So YKF and the Region have been incredibly supportive of us in our desire to grow,” Jones said.

Flair is very excited to be working with the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Region of Waterloo International Airport Photo

Flair began service June 10 with the first of 13 new Boeing 737-8 aircraft joining the fleet, and the airline maintains its ambitious goal to grow to 50 aircraft in five years. The addition of the new U.S. destinations is among Flair’s plans to add to its network for a total of 26 North American destinations.

And the expanding fleet of Boeing 737-8 aircraft means there’s no lack of employment opportunities. With each aircraft Flair brings on board, roughly 12 pilots and 24 crew are hired – in addition to the flight instructors and trainers. Jones said pilots could expect to transition from first officer to captain “much faster” than other airlines.

The commitment to the Boeing 737 Max 8 is part of Flair’s simplicity business model. “[Our] mantra is complexity comes at a cost; the more we can keep it simple, the lower costs will be. So having a single aircraft type is part of that.”

Purchasing brand new aircraft was strategic; they are “efficient because they don’t need a whole lot of maintenance in the first period of life.” And the timing of the recertification of the Max, paralleled with the relaunch of Flair, created a perfect union for the carrier. 

Jones added that due to furloughs and job loss in the industry, “pilots are plentiful” right now, and “training is the normal process that you need to go through to get current.” Simulator training has already begun at Boeing’s Miami facility, Jones said.

“We’ve been hiring fantastic pilots,” he added. Half of which were out of work with other Canadian airlines, “the other half are Canadians working overseas.”

Jones admitted that although the restart has been slower than expected, due to the third wave of the pandemic, “July is a bit of a transition month, and August, onwards [are] going to be super strong.

“Every day, we’re hitting sales records,” he added. “The last five weeks, it’s gone almost vertical in terms of our sales.”

Jones told Skies the airline’s mission has always been “to liberate the lives of Canadians,” and after months of closed borders and travel restrictions, Canadians are eager to travel. As he travels across Canada, visiting the airports Flair currently serves, he said he’s heard from Canadians who want to “see their mother they haven’t seen in 15 months, or grandchildren they’ve never met.

“[There are] a lot of human [interest] stories that you hear on the road at the moment about people just wanting to get back together.”

More information regarding destinations and schedules can be found at https://www.flyflair.com.

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