Flair Airlines expands with new service to Mexico

A Flair Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet takes off from Vancouver International Airport, Richmond, BCBayne Stanley / The Canadian Press

Edmonton-based low-cost carrier Flair Airlines is expanding once again, this time launching the service to Mexico.

Flair – which bills itself as an ultra-low-cost airline offering unbundled, bare-bone tickets to budget-conscious travelers – announced Tuesday that it will begin non-stop flights this winter to Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico, from Vancouver, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo.

“Expanding internationally is really at the heart of our growth strategy going forward,” Garth Lund, Flair’s commercial director, said in an interview. “I think there are a lot of opportunities to bring low prices to a lot of destinations … by next winter we’ll probably expand to other places in Mexico and into the Caribbean.”

The Mexico routes are just the latest strategic move from an airline that has been in an aggressive state of expansion over the past 12 months. Flair has announced 18 new destinations since early 2021, including starting in the spring for new U.S. destinations such as San Francisco, Nashville and Denver and Canadian destinations including Comox, BC, Regina, Montreal, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

Including the recently announced Mexico routes, Flair’s network now includes 31 destinations.

Flair has taken advantage of the downturn in air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiated favorable rental terms for brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and picked up pilots and flight attendants who have been laid off by other airlines.

“We started the year with three planes, we end with 12, by the end of next year we will have 20,” Lund said. “And we will continue to grow beyond that.”

Lund acknowledged that the uncertain course of the pandemic has made it difficult to predict future travel demand. But he said Flair is optimistic given the pace of recent reservations.

“The travel vaccine mandate has given people a lot of confidence to get out to travel again … We are experiencing a huge demand for Christmas and people booking out in the first quarter of next year,” he said.

The ultra-low-cost carrier model – where passengers pay a low base price and then pay extra for extras such as checked suitcases, cancellations and changes as well as seat selection – has gained momentum in Europe and the US, but is still less common in Canada. Only Flair and the WestJet subsidiary Swoop currently operate in space, although Calgary-based Enerjet and Vancouver-based CanadaJetlines have both indicated that they intend to launch discount companies in the future.

Flair’s new Mexico service begins Feb. 1 with prices starting between $ 79- $ 109 one way.

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