Lynx Air launches new low cost airline service from Calgary

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A new airline aiming to offer “ultra-affordable” fares says it plans to start operating from Calgary International Airport sometime in the new year.

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Lynx Air is establishing its headquarters in Calgary and plans to announce routes and schedules in the coming weeks. Merren McArthur, CEO and president of Lynx Air, said Tuesday that the company will follow a model from the United States and Europe to offer low prices and “liberate” Canadian travelers who do not fly as often as they would like.

“Our mission is to make air travel accessible to all Canadians,” McArthur said. “We want to offer extremely affordable airfare to enable people to fly and fly more often and see their family and friends or take the long-awaited vacation. We believe Calgary has an opportunity for us to bring in lower prices and encourage and inspire more people to travel out of Calgary and into Calgary. “

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McArthur said specific routes will be announced online in the coming weeks, allowing passengers to start booking flights. She said the airline plans to begin domestic flights across Canada before moving to the United States and abroad by the end of 2022.

The airline will also offer an a la carte booking option where passengers can choose to pay for various perks. McArthur said these options could range from not having to order luggage or being able to pay for extra legroom and premium seats. She said the airline does not plan to serve food on planes.

“All markets that are not serviced, or they are undertreated, or they do not have sufficiently low prices, will be markets that we will target,” McArthur said.

McArthur has previously been CEO of low cost airline Tigerair Australia and led two other Australian airlines. She said the new airline is privately supported by industry professionals, with the majority of shareholders being Canadian. She did not comment on who is financing the company.

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Lynx Air is rebranding Enerjet, a charter airline that primarily worked with companies in oil sands. McArthur said the change in business model will cause the company to build a fleet of 46 purchased and leased Boeing 737 aircraft over seven years, with the first three aircraft to be delivered in 2022.

McArthur said the airline is expected to create 450 jobs, a majority based in Calgary.

Merren McArthur, CEO of Lynx Air speaks at the airline's launch at Calgary International Airport.
Merren McArthur, CEO of Lynx Air speaks at the airline’s launch at Calgary International Airport. Gavin Young / Postmedia

At the launch on Tuesday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that the fact that Lynx Air is choosing to set up its headquarters in Calgary shows that the city is ready to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every job is an important job, and every time we are able to boost a Calgarian’s ability to keep a roof over his head, it’s important news,” Gondek said.

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She said the city and its partners have met with various industries and promoted the message that Calgary is ready to return.

Alberta’s Minister for Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Doug Schweitzer, said in a statement on Tuesday that Lynx Air’s unveiling is “fantastic news” for the province’s aviation and tourism sectors.

“It diversifies our economy, expands our offerings and creates hundreds of jobs, providing a different flight choice for Albertans and Calgarians,” Schweitzer said. “It’s just another way Alberta is becoming an attractive destination for people all over the world.”

Bob Sartor, president and CEO of the YYC Calgary Airport Authority, said he expected Lynx to have established routes through the city, no matter where they were headquartered. However, he said competition in the industry is always a good thing, noting that many large airlines trimmed their fleets during the pandemic, allowing smaller startups to have access to aircraft.

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He said Lynx will enter an established market and compete against other low-cost airlines such as Flair and Swoop.

“There’s no way these startups are going to compete with, you know, the major airlines because they have more planes, they have more options to discount if they have to,” Sartor said. “They want to get the people who have never traveled by plane to start traveling by plane. So that’s really what they’re focused on, and the model has certainly worked in the US (and) it has worked in frugality in Europe. “

McArthur said Lynx is not worried about what their competitors are doing and they will be focused on retaining customers through customer service.

dshort@postmedia.com

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