Categories News

‘We are here to stay,’ Flair Airlines CEO says after spring flight cuts

The CEO of Flair Airlines says the company is committed to “serving the needs of Canadian travellers” amid news that the company cut hundreds of flights in Canada this spring.

Data provided to CTV News by Cirium, an aviation analytics company, confirms that there are about 600 fewer flights on the airline’s schedule in March, April, and May compared to the same months in 2023, representing a reduction of about eight per cent.

Flair CEO Stephen Jones said the cuts, which were first reported by The Globe and Mail, were not made in response to the closure of low-cost airline Lynx Air last month, adding that the schedule for March, April, and May was published back in August.

“There have been no significant adjustments to our flight schedule,” Jones said in a statement released Friday. “Flair has not made any reductions to its schedule following the closure of Lynx Air.”

He went on to say that the Edmonton-based airline flies where “customer want to travel,” indicating that there has been a “resurgence in demand” for warm-weather destinations such as Mexico, Florida, and the Caribbean.

“Compared to last year, when we flew a predominantly domestic network, Flair Airlines has significantly increased its presence in these markets and opened over 20 new winter sun routes,” the statement continued.

While the overall number of flights is down, he suggested that capacity is actually up.

“Overall capacity, as measured by the industry-standard metric Available Seat Miles (ASM), is up by four per cent compared to the same March to May period last year,” Jones said.

“Over 70% of ASMs this past winter season were deployed to warm-weather destinations. These routes are typically longer than domestic routes, so we are operating further but slightly fewer flights.”

He said the “focus on winter sun markets” has been “tremendously popular” with Flair customers and high demand is expected in the upcoming months.

The CEO also dismissed any suggestion that the flight reductions were a result of the company’s financial struggles.

Earlier this year, court documents obtained by The Canadian Press revealed that Flair Airlines owes about $67.2 million in unpaid taxes.

At that time, Jones said the company had reached a deal with the Canada Revenue Agency to pay the taxes.

In his statement Friday, Jones said the skepticism surrounding Ultra-Low-Cost Carriers (ULCCs) in Canada is “misplaced.”

“I want to assure all Canadians that Flair Airlines is steadfast in our confidence that the ULCC model has potential to thrive in Canada. We are here to stay, resilient and determined to continue serving the needs of Canadian travellers,” Jones added.

“With the closure of Lynx Air, the significance of Flair Airlines in the market has become even more pronounced. We embrace and recognize the responsibility that comes with being the only ULCC in Canada and remain committed to providing Canadians with affordable airfare.”

-With files from The Canadian Press