Low-cost carrier Flair Airlines connects to St. John’s
Posted on November 10, 2023 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments
It was a press conference but even more a celebration at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s on Thursday, as Flair Airlines announced service to St. John’s International Airport. Beginning in May, the low-cost carrier is introducing new connections with Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, and a new service to western Newfoundland. The trio of routes come atop a 2024 summer schedule announced earlier this month that also includes flights in and out of Halifax, N.S., Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown, P.E.I.
One of the flights for St. John’s will be between St. John’s and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, running alongside a list of heavier hitters in the regional market including Porter, Air Canada and WestJet. The competition isn’t something CEO Stephen Jones is nervous about.
“We just play our own game. We know the competition is there … But we think there’s a market here that deserves lower fares and we will stimulate the market by having lower fares,”
—Stephen Jones, CEO, Flair Airlines
“We just play our own game. We know the competition is there … But we think there’s a market here that deserves lower fares and we will stimulate the market by having lower fares,” he said.
Beginning May 6, 2024, the company will fly the route three times a week. The frequency is set to move to four times a week after a first month of service. The service is seasonal, running until October 25. Tickets will start at $69.
Flair Airlines is already flying in and out of Deer Lake Regional Airport, on the west coast of Newfoundland, connecting to the Region of Waterloo International Airport, a.k.a. Kitchener-Waterloo. It will be adding a route between Deer Lake and Toronto (Pearson), with the same starting price of $69, taxes and fees included. That new service will begin May 27, 2024 and run through Oct. 7 and run three times a week.
Jones said the company wasn’t sure how the market would react when it launched earlier in Deer Lake, where Flair started with flights to and from in spring 2022. However, with a little time and word of mouth, there was proof in the demand.
“The first year was really about building the market a bit into Deer Lake. The second year we actually felt really strong demand coming in,” he told reporters.
“I think one of the challenges will be actually infrastructure at the other end. Are there the rental cars, the accommodations, that can handle the loads to enable us to grow?” he added.
Flair Airlines looks to have flights at least 90 per cent full across the company, throughout the year, but that’s the easy marker. You’re guaranteed to fill seats if you’re all but giving them away; the real challenge is hitting the right price. The ultra-low fares are headline-grabbing sales that can draw in both new customers and seasoned travelers who may not have otherwise considered flying anywhere anytime soon. The greater demand leads to a greater ability to keep costs down over the long term, when paired with a high-efficiency service, asking customer to pay for anything they might want to have beyond their seat on the plane.
The third, new route being introduced will run between St. John’s and the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Those flights are scheduled to begin May 6, 2024 and run through Oct. 25. The first seats will be up for the first day of sales for a headline grabbing rate of $39 all-in, starting at $69 thereafter.
It’s a good start for Flair as far as St. John’s International Airport Authority CEO Dennis Hogan is concerned. He didn’t disclose any details of the arrangements made for the airline in the capital city port.
“This really is the culmination of conversations that started about two years ago. So a lot of work goes into the courtship, if you want to call it that,” he said, reiterating the new routes and service.
“I couldn’t be happier. I think it’s a tremendous addition to services and air service development specifically at St. John’s International Airport. And having additional service to Toronto-Pearson is always a very good thing, particularly at such affordable prices,” Hogan said.
“Any increase in air access to the province is good not just for tourism but also for our economy. People tend to think of this as a way to get tourists here, but access to hubs like Toronto, like Europe, are key to business growth and success in the province,”
—Jaclyn Sullivan, Executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council
Executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, Jaclyn Sullivan, was on hand for the announcement. It was of course, she said, positive news particularly in the context of improved access.
“Any increase in air access to the province is good not just for tourism but also for our economy. People tend to think of this as a way to get tourists here, but access to hubs like Toronto, like Europe, are key to business growth and success in the province,” she told ABM.
Headquartered in Edmonton, Flair Airlines started in 2017, with 20 aircraft and over 1,250 employees. The company flew 2.3 million passengers this past summer and has been on a mission of reassuring customers after a dramatic disruption earlier this year, where planes were held at three locations. In October, Flair Airlines registered 99.9 per cent flights completed according to schedule (only four flights were cancelled), according to information provided at the event.
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