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Region's airport strikes agreement with Flair Airlines providing domestic flights

Flair Airlines will provide non-stop service to six Canadian destinations from YKF

There soon will be more activity at the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF). 

Flair Airlines have announced a formal agreement with YKF to provide non-stop domestic flights to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Halifax. 

The company said the anticipated start date is May 1, 2021, dependant on the lifting of travel restrictions in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our community deserves affordable travel across Canada and we are pleased to welcome Flair Airlines to the Region of Waterloo International Aiport," said Regional Chair Karen Redman in a release. "Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, the addition of Flair's services will provide further connectivity to other economic hubs, create local jobs, build partnerships and help support the recovery of the local economy."

The release goes on to say that Flair Airlines new service will help drive our local economy through tourism, job creation, and the purchase of local goods and services.

Flair Airlines also announcing Wednesday morning that its expansion includes service from other cities across the country including Ottawa, Halifax, Kitchener-Waterloo in May. In June, it will add service to Thunder Bay and Charlottetown, Victoria will be added by July while Abbotsford will be added by August. 

The partnership is also meant to spark improved access to the region for companies that want to do business here, expand connectivity to large cities, enhance tourism through cross-promotion and build leisure traffic, and create the potential for aviation-related program development with post-secondary institutions. 

"Flair is thrilled to be working with the Region of Waterloo International Airport and to bring the freedom of affordable travel to the people of this region," said Stephen Jones, President and CEO of Flair Airlines, "with the expected recovery from the pandemic this summer, Flair and YKF will be there with low fares to give more Canadians the opportunity to travel to visit friends and family and to see more of this beautiful country." 

Flair Airlines is described as an independent ultra-low cost carrier providing travelers tickets at a much lower price that has a growing fleet of Boeing 737 aircrafts.

Regional Councillor and Chair of the Economic Development Committee, Helen Jowett telling the Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS that this is a game-changer for the airport to be able to increase how many seats it will be able to sell per year.

"I've seen a business approach to the airport where the triggers and the mechanisms are all in place that defines success immediately for us so we're not taking foolish risks but we are still responding to the actual realizations of gains in seats," said Jowett.

She adds that expansion of the airport won't happen until it sees approximately 250,000 passengers per year.

"There's a trigger point at 250,000 seats per year, this partnership will bring us closer to 500,000 seats per year if everything goes the way it's planned," she said. 

Jowett said that if pandemic restrictions on travel aren't lifted by May, it may delay when service starts but she doesn't get the sense that it will forego the partnership.

"I'm not getting that from this, it may delay but there's a commitment here," she said, "quite practically, we are a well-run airport and the ultra-low cost carrier model just seems to fit perfectly. We are working in a very tight space financially and it kept our cost low and that's what is attractive to them."

It was also teased at Wednesday's approval meeting this could just be the beginning of a growing partnership.

"There's nothing to report today," said Chris Wood, General Manager, Region of Waterloo International Airport. "However this is the announcement for their first, I think, eight new aircraft, and they do have plans for up to 50 new aircraft."

"So I would hope there is going to be more announcements by Flair in the future depending how this service does and we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's successful."

Back in September, Pivot Airlines also announced a partnership with the region's airport to offer flights to Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa, and Montreal. Those flights won't take-off until pandemic restrictions are lifted as well. 

The agreement has been unanimously approved by Regional Council. 

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