Canada’s Flair Airlines has launched services for the first time with its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The ultra-low-cost carrier recently placed an order for 13 units of the narrowbody, and the first of these is flying between Edmonton and Toronto today. Simple Flying caught up with the company’s president and CEO, Stephen Jones, ahead of the big launch.
The first of many
The first 737 MAX in the fleet just joined the airline at the end of last month. The jet marks the first of eight units that will also be added by August. They will fly alongside Flair’s three 737-800 that are on lease as the carrier prepares for the next chapter. Altogether, the planes form part of the company’s “F50” goal, which will see it hold 50 aircraft in the next half a decade.
These additions will help Flair focus on the domestic market through the summer while the Canadian border with the US remains shut due to the restrictions implemented as a result of the pandemic. Thereafter, as the border reopens, the aircraft will also be seen across the border and also to the likes of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Across Canada, passengers can expect to see the 737s on routes to 19 destinations. The operator is ramping up its services to airports in the country, with the likes of Ottawa and St. John’s seeing new operations over the next few months. This move follows recent expansions with new operations to Prince George, Fort McMurray, Regina, and Saskatoon launching last summer.
The arrival of the 737 MAX allowed Flair to become Canada’s fourth operator of the type. The carrier is a fan of the aircraft along with Air Canada, Westjet, and Sunwing Airlines. According to ch-aviation, this first unit is on lease from 777 Partners. The aircraft was delivered on May 26th and conducted its first flight back on August 27th, 2019.
In January, Canadian authorities announced the clearance of the 737 MAX for a return to service, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s update at the end of last year. Amid the reentry, Flair’s teams have been working closely with Boeing on extensive testing and training programs ahead of the entry.
Flair has been making good ground since its founding in 2005. Based in Edmonton, the airline has grown to hold bases at Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver.
The MAX will dominate the fleet this decade. Included in the setup may be the MAX 200, a variant that has risen to fame following fellow low-cost carrier Ryanair’s faith in the plane. The firm offers fares as low as $19, drawing comparison to its Irish counterpart in terms of pricing. So, it’s not a surprise that Flair would be eager to match the operator with saving prospects.
“We’re going to stay purely with the MAX. We do like the look of the game-changer, the 200, and so it’s likely that we would add those into the fleet if possible. It’s a slightly bigger aircraft in terms of the number of passengers on board, not on the physical size. It would naturally go on to some of the trunk routes,” Jones told Simple Flying.
“It again drops unit costs, which is what it’s all about for us. It’s continually lowering our costs, which means we can lower our prices, which stimulates demand.”
The right balance
Flair has its sights on sustainable growth and is looking to become Canada’s greenest airline. The company highlights that after taking delivery of more MAX aircraft, it will have the lowest carbon emissions per person in the commercial aviation industry.
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The fuel savings won’t only allow Flair to have the lowest cost per seat mile in the country, it will also slash carbon emissions by 14%. Therefore, the aircraft allows the company to keep on top of two of its key missions – low costs and low emissions.
“It’s really important to us that we have a modern, efficient, reliable fleet. So, the MAX is a fantastic platform for an ultra-low-cost carrier being a very efficient aircraft. Not only physically with the paint, but in an environmental sense, and there is also about 50% noise reduction relative to its predecessors as well. So, when you put those together, it’s a fantastic platform for us,” Jones adds.
“Internally, you know it’s a beautiful customer experience, everything’s as you would expect from a new aircraft, with the new plane smell and the brand new seating and everything. So, it’s a really important step as Canada’s first and only true ultra-low-cost carrier.”
Opening up the skies
Following a well-publicized challenging two years for the 737 MAX, airlines have been showing their optimism in the plane since its reintroduction. Carriers across the globe have been ramping up orders. For instance, Alaska Airlines recently bolstered its orders. Moreover, earlier today, we reported that United Airlines could order 100 units of the type. Flair’s sentiments seem to echo several other carriers when it comes to commitment to the model.
Altogether, Flair feels that Canadians have been paying too much for too long for airfares. Therefore, the airline is keen to transform and liberate Canadians to travel more within their own country and overseas by bringing a true ultra-low-cost carrier. It believes that this step is a milestone for Canada’s commercial aviation scene.
What are your thoughts about Flair Airlines’ new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft? Will you be looking to hit the air with the operator this year? Also, what do you make of the overall plans for the carrier? Let us know what you think of the company and its services in the comment section.