Edmonton, Alberta, Sept. 05, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Flair Airlines, Canada’s only truly independent low cost airline, is pleased to report an average passenger load factor of 92% for July & August 2019.
“We are delighted with the rapidly growing number of Canadians who have flocked to Flair this summer” said CEO Jim Scott. He continued ,“After only one year as an exclusively scheduled carrier we have established Flair as the place to go for low fares, great service and are already recognizing many return customers.”
During the summer, Edmonton-based Flair flew from Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax. Flair successfully initiated daily non-stop service between Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver as well as between Toronto and Calgary.
Over the last few months, as part of it’s fleet renewal program, Flair has added three newer Boeing 737-800NG aircraft and is gradually phasing out it’s older B737-400’s. All three additions sport Flair’s distinctive new livery and logo.
By next summer Flair plans to be operating a single-type fleet of B737-800 NG‘s, which are more fuel efficient and also have longer range capabilities. Flair’s unified fleet will open up a number of exciting southern destinations offered at accessible rates.
While Flair’s year-to-date on-time performance has been one of the best in Canada, the younger aircraft should serve to make it even better.
By Erica Alini National Online Journalist, Money/Consumer Global News
For years, consumers lamented the cost of air travel in Canada. But now that Canadian no-frill airlines are a thing, their takeoff is proving rougher than many expected.
Carolina Ayala was one of the hundreds of Swoop passengers affected by the low-cost carrier’s decision to cancel 23 flights between July 5 and July 10 due to unscheduled maintenance on one of its aircraft. Ayala, who was supposed to fly back to Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 8, said the airline told her the night before her flight — a Sunday evening — that she’d been re-booked on a flight leaving a whopping four days later, on July 12.
Waiting that long wasn’t an option for Ayala, who was due to start a new job in Toronto. But when she tried to contact the airline’s customer service, she couldn’t reach anyone over the phone on the weekend, she said.
In the end, Ayala had to pay $731 out-of-pocket for an Air Canada flight to Toronto that was nearly four times more expensive than the $191 she’d paid for her original return ticket on Swoop.
The company was quick to refund Ayala for her unused part of the booking, but it wasn’t until July 15, after she had spoken with Global News, that the airline also extended an offer to reimburse the cost difference for the Air Canada ticket.
Swoop said in a statement it is completing a “full review” of the cancellations and is committed to “improving [its] process to regain the confidence of [its] travellers.”
“We have already identified the need for additional traveller support in our contact centre and acknowledge the volume of correspondence required during this event has had a significant impact to our response time,” Swoop said. “Affected travellers were re-booked on the next available Swoop flight and we worked on a case-by-case basis thereafter on alternate arrangements if the new flight time provided was not suitable,” the company said.
Last-minute changes at Flair Airlines have also left some passengers scrambling. In February, for example, the ultra-low-cost carrier announced it was suspending seasonal flights to Florida and California earlier than expected.
The Edmonton-based airline attributed the decision to the unravelling of an agreement with a third-party airline as well as disappointing passenger booking volume.
“We are in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or, for those who have already started their journey, alternative travel arrangements on other airlines,” the airline told Global News in February.
But some Flair travellers have also complained about the airline’s customer service. Last year, for example, it took Colleen Shickluna, of Port Aux Basques, N.L., more than two months to obtain a refund for the $130 cab ride she had to take to Hamilton from Toronto after her Flair flight was rerouted away from its original destination.
Shickluna said she received the reimbursement after Global News published an article telling her story and that of other disgruntled Flair passengers.
At the time, Flair provided the following statement: “We apologize to any person that has not received reimbursement or a refund to what was promised or owed to them, after acknowledgment of a receipt. In May of this year, we made significant improvements to our systems and processes; enabling us to optimize our customer experience. We deeply regret if individuals are awaiting resolution, and will prioritize and address their concerns on an individual basis.”
But aviation expert John Korenic rejects the notion that flying with a no-frill airline inherently comes with a higher risk of aggravation. The issue isn’t that Swoop and Flair are low-cost carriers but that they have few planes to fly.
Swoop currently has seven aircraft in its fleet, while Flair has five and is expecting two more to join its fleet in the next couple of months. That’s a fraction of the fleet size of other well-established, ultra-low-cost carriers. In Europe, for example, Ryanair and EasyJet operate more than 450 and 300 aircraft respectively.
And a tiny fleet means a higher chance of flight disruptions, Korenic said in reference to Swoop’s recent spree of flight cancellations.
“If you lose one aircraft, that’s one seventh of your fleet gone.”
The risk is especially high during the peak travel season, which tends to be between mid-June and the beginning of September in Canada, he added.
“That’s when you have your highest demand. You want to maximize your fleet as much as possible, so there’s little opportunity to add aircraft or capacity into a market place,” he said.
Likely adding to that challenge this summer are widespread capacity shortages caused by the issues surrounding Boeing’s 737 MAX planes, Korenic said. The jets have been grounded worldwide since March after two crashes involving the new-generation aircraft killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians.
Still, even for start-up airlines with a tight cash-flow, getting customer support right is of the utmost importance, Korenic said.
Re-booking a passenger several days later, “wouldn’t work for any of us,” he said.
On July 15, new federal consumer protection rules for air passengers came into effect establishing new standards for treatment and compensation in case of overbooking, tarmac delays and lost or damaged luggage, among other things. Another batch of regulations is expected to roll out on Dec. 15, covering issues including flight delays and cancellations.
But will the new regime make a difference for passengers choosing low-cost carriers?
For cancellations that are “within the carrier’s control but required for safety purposes,” as in the recent Swoop cancellation, under the regulations coming into effect in December, “large airlines would have to re-book the passenger on another (competing) airline, if their own next available flight (or their partner’s) departs nine or more hours after the passenger’s original departure time,” the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) told Global News via email.
For small airlines, the requirement to re-book using competing airlines doesn’t exist, the agency also said. However, “the routing of the alternate travel arrangements must be reasonable and, to the extent possible, provide services that are comparable to those of the original ticket,” according to the CTA.
If the alternate travel arrangements don’t work for the passenger, all airlines must refund the unused portion of the ticket.
Also, “if the disruption has caused the passenger’s travel to no longer serve a purpose and the passenger is no longer at the point of origin on their itinerary, the airline must provide the passenger with a confirmed reservation back to the point of origin on the ticket and refund the full amount of the ticket,” the CTA said.
Still, the regulations do not specify a time limit for small carriers re-booking passengers, which renders the provision “less than useful,” according to Ian Jack of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
“It is another reason why we need the regulator — the CTA — to be vigilant,” Jack added via email. “They have the ability to examine cases if someone complains, and can rule on the reasonableness of airline actions. The overarching goal of the regime is to get people to where they were going with the shortest delay.”
Still, Jack added it might be “challenging” for the CTA to effectively oversee the new regime without additional resources.
On the other hand, passengers dropped off somewhere other than their original destination, as was the case with Shickluna, would have a right to alternate arrangements ensuring they can reach their final destination, Jack said.
But air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs said the new rules aren’t likely to be systematically enforced.
“In the past, the problem has been that fines were not being issued in practice,” he said, an issue he believes will continue under the new regime.
Lukacs and disability rights advocate Bob Brown have filed a lawsuit against the CTA concerning the new air travel regulations.
The rules also face a legal challenge from Air Canada and Porter Airlines, along with 17 other applicants including the International Air Transport Association — which boasts 290 member airlines — which claims the regulations violate international standards.
For her part, Ayala has already made up her mind about Canada’s low-cost carriers.
Flair Airlines announced its 2019/2020 winter schedule with low fare service out of seven Canadian gateways; Abbotsford, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto’s Pearson International.
Jim Scott, Flair’s CEO commented, “As Canada’s only independent low fare airline, our new winter schedule will bring more and more Canadians together right across the country. With over a million passengers flown in the last year, we are quietly building a very loyal group of ‘Flair Flyers’.”
Commencing on October 27th the new winter schedule sees a continuation of Flair’s recently introduced and highly competitive daily non-stop services from Toronto (YYZ) to both Vancouver (YVR) and Calgary (YYC). At its winter peak, Flair will operate some 146 flights per week utilizing its fleet which includes both Boeing 737-800s and 737-400s.
Flair’s 2019/2020 winter schedule from Oct. 27, 2019 – Mar. 27, 2020 features:
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat
to Toronto (Pearson)
From Toronto (Pearson)
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
to Toronto (Pearson)
to Toronto (Pearson)
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
to Toronto (Pearson)
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri
Note: additional frequencies will be available during the holiday season.
The company’s travel connection platform is helping Canada’s first Ultra-Low Cost Carrier quickly ramp up its booking and digital retailing capabilities
MIAMI, June 19, 2019 /CNW/ — Air Black Box, a global travel technology company founded to help airlines address the complexities of cross-selling travel product inventory, is partnering with Flair Airlines, Canada’s first independent ultra-low cost carrier, to power its booking, retailing and ancillary revenue needs.
Air Black Box is providing Flair with a comprehensive digital booking solution and access to ancillaries and new retail channels. The revenue-generating internet booking engine (IBE) enables airline customers to easily search, book, pay for, and manage flights.
Through the Air Black Box platform, Flair will be able to market and sell high-value air-related ancillaries, including baggage fees, seat upgrades, and travel insurance, in addition to ground-based ancillaries, including car rental, parking, and hotel booking.
“It was crucial for us to find a technology partner that could develop a state-of-the-art booking and ancillary revenue solution which didn’t require complex and lengthy integrations,” said Jim Scott, president and CEO of Flair Airlines. “We needed a partner who could meet our aggressive timetable and get us up to speed quickly, keep costs low, and evolve and grow with us. Air Black Box is that partner.”
Developing New Retail Channels and Selling Opportunities Air Black Box developed a retailing and merchandising product roadmap for Flair that goes beyond traditional ancillaries. Not only will the planned roll-out generate new revenue opportunities, the platform also enables Flair to offer customers intelligently packaged products that enhance their travel experience. Dynamic productization and pricing are also part of the roadmap as Air Black Box develops new solutions alongside Flair’s market expansion.
“Our technology allows startup airlines like Flair to scale up quickly and compete in dynamic markets,” said Ian Reyner, CEO of Air Black Box. “Since our approach is cost-effective and less complex than traditional ancillary revenue development and booking solutions, we offer the flexibility and speed to market that Flair, as Canada’s fastest growing airline, needs.”
Powering Low Cost Airlines Air Black Box—with its deep domain knowledge and experience working with regional low-cost airlines—also provides the technology behind the Value Alliance, the world’s first low-cost carrier alliance and Asia-Pacific’s largest. The platform helps the alliance build its collective reach and revenues – and supports customers who choose multiple carriers in a single booking or have complex flight itineraries.
Connecting Key Ancillaries The Air Black Box platform currently connects third-party suppliers of ancillaries directly into a recalibrated booking path to drive higher conversions, while allowing Flair’s customers to choose ancillaries that are right for their trip. The booking solution was deployed in January 2019, with additional ancillary products being added as the airline expands capacity and reach across the Canadian and US markets.
“Our expertise in working with LCCs and ULCCs is key to why we are ideally positioned to partner with Flair. We’ve been able to deploy our capabilities quickly, without a lengthy integration process – a benefit Flair wouldn’t get from legacy solutions providers and that is so critical at this stage of their growth,” added Reyner.
Saint John, NB – 04 June 2019 – InteliSys Aviation has announced that its annual user conference, the Airline Growth Summit, will be held from October 21 to 25 in Montréal, Québec at Hotel Nelligan. The goal of the Summit is for InteliSys, its partners, and industry leaders to bring together a global network of airlines to help them grow into market leaders while shaping the future of the amelia product suite and the airline industry as a whole.
“The Summit started as an InteliSys product event 18 years ago and has now grown into our keynote event – the one our attendees simply cannot wait for every year,” said Frank Kays, InteliSys Aviation CEO. “It brings together our clients, prospects, industry-leading experts, and InteliSys team members in one place where we collaborate on the future of the business, how airlines can grow, and how we can work together to drive the product vision for amelia.”
Attendees of the 2018 Airline Growth Summit working together in a group discussion.
About the Airline Growth Summit
The Summit is carefully designed to attract members of the global family of amelia airlines and beyond on the system’s capabilities, product updates, and best practices to ensure they are maximizing their PSS and CMS systems. Attendees also benefit from an unparalleled opportunity to network with other airlines and InteliSys Aviation face-to-face in order to help shape the future of the amelia product roadmap.
The first two days of the Summit will consist of engaging presentations, interactive workshops and panel discussions, and much more – all led by the InteliSys team and industry experts.
The third day of the conference will be dedicated to one-on-one consultations between airline clients and InteliSys’ product experts. During these intimate discussions, InteliSys and its clientele will have the chance to work together to develop solutions to the unique challenges of individual airlines.
The Summit will once again feature its annual Airline Growth Summit Awards Banquet, which recognizes the contributions InteliSys Aviation’s clients make to the communities they serve and for exemplary industry achievements.
“There are three pillars of growth that we focus on at the Summit: the growth of the industry, the evolution of the amelia product suite so it fits the unique wants and needs of our airline clients, and the expansion of the professional networks of each attendee by bringing together some of the finest airlines, system providers, and aviation experts in the industry,” said Nikki Falavena, InteliSys Aviation Director of Marketing.
She continued, “Our company motto is ‘Never Settle’ and, in line with that, we will continue to build off the momentum of last year’s Summit. The 2019 Airline Growth Summit is shaping up to be our best event yet, and we cannot wait to host the amelia family this autumn in charming Old Montréal!”
The Federal Court of Canada has ordered a second senior employee at WestJet Airlines Ltd. to testify under oath, the latest development in a predatory pricing investigation into WestJet and its budget subsidiary, Swoop, by Canada’s competition watchdog.
The inquiry, launched by the Competition Bureau in the fall, concerns allegations the two carriers used anti-competitive practices to crowd out B.C.-based upstart Flair Airlines from at least three routes last year.
Chief Justice Paul Crampton has ordered WestJet corporate planning manager Michael Claeren to be examined by Canada’s Commissioner of Competition, citing Claeren’s former role as senior leader of revenue and pricing at Swoop. He is set to appear next month alongside WestJet vice-president John Weatherill, who the Federal Court previously ordered to come before a presiding officer to explain the airline’s tactics.
Interim competition commissioner Matthew Boswell states in court filings that WestJet’s alleged predatory pricing _ when a company offers services below break-even costs to hobble a competitor _ constitutes an abuse of its dominant position.
The accusation applies routes between Edmonton and the cities of Abbotsford, B.C., Hamilton, Ont., and Winnipeg. On the Hamilton route, Swoop advertised all-inclusive fares for as low as $69 starting last June.
Flair Airlines chief executive Jim Scott has said the strategy cost his ultra-low-cost carrier about $10 million between mid-June and mid-October, placing it in jeopardy.
WestJet has said it is compiling information in response to the probe, which has seen piles of court-ordered documents and data from the two Calgary-based carriers handed over to the Competition Bureau.
Miami-based investment firm has acquired a 25% equity stake in ULCC Carrier
Edmonton, Alberta, April 02, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Edmonton, AB, Canada, April 1, 2019 – Flair Airlines(“Flair”), Canada’s only independent ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC), announced that Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners(“777”) has acquired a 25 percent equity stake in the airline for an undisclosed sum. This commitment reflects the significant opportunity for disruption that Flair and 777 see in Canada’s duopolistic marketplace.
“The aviation sector continues to be ripe for innovation and Flair is well-equipped to provide affordable airfare for Canada’s underserved market,” said Steve Pasko, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of 777 Partners. “Despite having a strong potential market for ULCCs, Canada lags behind the rest of the world in this space. Through this investment, we want to create a viable alternative for consumers in the region, who have faced a lack of air transportation choice until now.”
Originally founded as a charter airline in 2005, Flair transitioned into a full commercial airline operation in 2017 to create a fairer and more equitable airfare environment for all travelers. Having recently undergone a major re-brand, the organization receives its first Boeing 737-800 NG sporting the airline’s new-look livery this week.
“The financial strength of 777 Partners ensures that Flair is in a stronger position to compete and continue on our strong trajectory for domestic growth while meeting the clear demand for ULCC airline options in Canada,” said Jim Scott, CEO of Flair Airlines. “This significant investment comes at an exciting time for Flair. Building on the almost one million passengers we have carried in the last 12 months, Flair is leveraging 777’s expertise in the aviation sector to continue scaling our operations, as evidenced by plans to introduce four new airplanes to our fleet this year.”
777 Partners is an active ‘buy-and-build’ investor that manages high-growth companies within a long-term portfolio. The firm capitalizes innovative opportunities in niche, overlooked markets that will benefit from its ‘Shared Services’ model, a collaborative ecosystem between its portfolio companies that increases productivity and reduces business expenditure. The ecosystem provides efficiencies across staffing, back-office management, vendor negotiation and supplier management.
Edmonton, AB, April 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — To mark World Autism Day, 2019, Flair airlines today announced that all of its flight attendants have recently completed a specialized training course in ‘autism awareness’ – a first for a Canadian airline.
Flair’s cabin-crew members successfully completed the certification course conducted by Connecticut-based Autism Double-Checked: The course is designed to prepare flight attendants to recognize and cater to the special needs of autistic guests as well as – by way of a Flight Guide available to the flyer – to help prepare the autistic guest for the air travel experience.
In North America, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects approximately one in 58 children. Research has shown that families with an autistic child are significantly less likely to take vacations for fear of how their child will react when confronted with the many unfamiliar and daunting challenges represented by crowded airports, airplanes and hotels.
Flair’s Executive Chairman, David Tait commented, “This is a ‘first’ of which we are very proud. Our crews were very excited to participate in this training and look forward to easing some of the rigors of air travel for families with autistic children.”
Flair also has plans for helping to familiarize families with the travel experience on the ground. In cooperation with Edmonton International Airport (EIA), CATSA, Autism Edmonton and Autism Double-Checked, Flair will host a trial boarding event at EIA.
Families with autistic children will be invited to experience every phase of the airport experience: checking in, clearing security, waiting at the gate, boarding, finding your seat and fastening a seat belt. The standard onboard announcements will be made followed by the deplaning and arrival process. Tait added, “These are things we all learn to tolerate when travelling, for an autistic child however they can be frighteningly intimidating. Knowing the airline understands special needs and events like these ‘flights-to-nowhere’ greatly diminishes that fear of the unknown when the family goes on a trip.”
Full details on to the mid-June ‘Autism Flights’ event will be announced shortly.
Edmonton, March 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent, low-fare airline, is pleased to announce the appointment of Sandy Burns as the airline’s new Flight Attendant Manager.
Ms. Burns previously held management roles with Air Canada Jazz and WestJet Encore, and has led teams of up to 500. A safety-focused leader, Ms. Burns joins Flair Airlines with close to 30 years of Canadian aviation experience, with more than 15 years of hands-on, in-flight experience.
“Sandy joins Flair with significant experience and a deep understanding of Canadian aviation. Our hiring strategy is simple: hire people who understand aviation and are passionate about bringing Canadians affordable air travel,” said Flair Airlines CEO, Jim Scott. “Sandy is an important addition to the Flair Airlines team and will ensure each passenger receives the onboard experience they expect.”
Ms. Burns is based at the Flair Airlines headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta, and will lead a team of more than 120 flight attendants. In her role, Ms. Burns will oversee the recruitment, retention, training and service delivery of the Flair Airlines flight attendant team as it continues to grow.
Some Canadians who planned to use Flair airlines to head south this spring have been left scrambling after the ultra-low-cost carrier cancelled several routes.
Flair is suspending seasonal service earlier than expected to some U.S. destinations beginning Thursday, Feb. 28, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
Flair is ending flights to three places: Miami and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (near Tampa Bay) in Florida, and Palm Springs, California.
Flair said it will continue to fly from Winnipeg to Orlando unchanged, as well as between Las Vegas and Phoenix-Mesa in Arizona and Edmonton and Winnipeg, but with reduced frequency.
“We are in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or, for those who have already started their journey, alternative travel arrangements on other airlines,” spokesperson Iris Dias said.
The Edmonton-based airline said it entered an agreement with a third party airline to provide services to some US destinations, “to allow our people the time to train and prepare for the addition of our new aircraft type, the Boeing 737-800NG.”
Flair said that agreement was challenged by several external factors and disappointing passenger booking numbers did not deliver the results they had expected.
Analyst Marvin Ryder, a marketing professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., said these are growing pains that come with ultra-low-cost carriers — adding, as a young company, Flair is still testing to see what works and what does not.
“Expect the unexpected. Expect to suddenly hear they’re going to add routes; the next day they’re going to cut routes or they’re going to reduce the amount of service or changing the plane because they’re still experimenting.
“I just can’t state that enough: we are very much in the experimental mode.”
Another video – click here: One industry expert says to expect these ups and downs when booking with ultra low-cost carriers. Kendra Slugoski reports.
Ryder said he expects to see more of Flair testing routes and cancelling ones that don’t live up to expectation, adding the company can’t afford to keep running unprofitable flights just for the sake of keeping customers happy.
“In particular with Flair, it doesn’t have deep pockets. Swoop who’s the competitor, has WestJet — and well, WestJet’s got some pockets. They can run this trial a little longer. For Flair, if they’re not getting the pickup they need, they really got to cut their losses.”
Nikki Escaravage is learning just how much risk comes with taking advantage of a good deal. She and her two daughters were booked on a round-trip from Edmonton to Palm Springs, and left on Tuesday.
“It was a pretty good deal. I had known a few friends who had flown Flair air before and they had raved about it, so I thought I would take a chance and see if it worked for us.”
She arrived in southern California, only to be contacted by a friend who said the return flight to Edmonton next week had been cancelled. Escaravage said there was no notification on Flair’s website, and when she called was told the airline was re-structuring most of its flights to the U.S.
Escaravage said her flight was refunded but the airline didn’t offer to help with finding a new way home, so she booked with WestJet instead. She wishes Flair had done a better job of communicating.
“I’ve given you my money, I’m trying to have a nice time with my family and my flights are cancelled. You knew about it and didn’t tell me.”
“You should let your customers know.”
Ryder says the early days, or years, of a new ultra-low-cost carrier are like the “wild, wild west.”
“I always caution everyone who wants to book with a low-cost carrier: This is not the same as Air Canada, this is not the same as WestJet where you have a 50- or 60-year history of performance.”
He said many Canadians are willing to take the risk of sudden changes, if it means getting a great deal.
“We Canadians are just kind of learning what ultra-low-cost carriers are all about and here’s the good news — early indications are we like them and we are giving them our business,” Ryder said.
Flair said its Canadian flight network will be unaffected by the changes to its trans-border services.
The news comes one week after Flair unveiled a big re-branding, which includes green-and-black paint jobs on their planes and a new logo – with a lowercase “f” – as well as new crew uniforms and a new website.
The airline said the re-brand would “set the course for the airline’s next stages of growth.”
Flair said since it announced it was moving its headquarters to Edmonton last summer, it has increased its workforce by some 20 per cent to over 300 people, relocated to four floors of the office tower at Edmonton International Airport, introduced new international routes and welcomed the first Boeing 737-800 aircraft into its fleet.
It said four more are planned to arrive by the end of 2019.