Two Calgary backers are looking to bring discount, destination travel routes to Calgary through a new Ontario-based airline company.
Canada Jetlines is set to become Canada’s newest budget travel company when it launches its first sunshine routes in 2022. The airline is billing itself as a cheap alternative to fly south with its first flight scheduled to leave from Toronto in 2022.
On the management team are two Calgary backers. David Kruschell has started and worked with a number of entrepreneurial startups in Calgary’s travel industry. He said Canada Jetlines is set to offer competition to the major players in the field, WestJet and Air Canada, and offer competitive fares on underserved routes.
“I have a huge respect for the WestJet model and everything that has been done over the years to make it into what it is today,” said Kruschell. “Having said that, you know, I feel like Jetlines is a real focus niche player that is going to provide real travel opportunities for Canadians.”
Kruschell said that after the company becomes established in Ontario, he expects to see flights out of Calgary’s YYC airport by late 2022 or early 2023. He said the company is looking at what routes and destinations are currently underserved and where passengers will want to go, but he expects Jetlines to offer flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and possibly some southern U.S. states.
“We’re gonna really look hard at what some of those best destinations are and where we’re best equipped,” said Kruschell.
Canada Jetlines’ website calls the company the “little guy” that was originally developed as a charter airline to get to sunny destinations in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean on a smaller budget. The company announced in July that it was looking to list on the market under a $5-million private placement. Once it receives approval from the Canadian Travel Agency, it will begin operations as a tour operator.
Jetlines is planning to build a fleet of Airbus A320s as its standard plane.
Also on the board is Ravinder Minhas, founder of Calgary’s Minhas Micro Brewery. He said he will be pushing to ensure Calgary is included in any Jetline expansions out of Ontario.
Minhas is new to the airline business after establishing himself in the oil and gas and brewing sectors in Alberta. He said coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with public health restrictions easing around the world and borders beginning to reopen, is the perfect time to enter into a travel-related business.
“If it was easy and everybody had a crystal ball, everybody would do it. But having said that . . . I think we recognize there’s an appetite for travel,” said Minhas. “We recognize that opportunities for aircraft are good, good deals, and coming out of the pandemic gives a new player like us an opportunity.”
Minhas and Kruschell both said added competition in the market is a good thing for customers, giving them more options. Minhas said that when he began his brewing company, he was told that the market was saturated and that he sees parallels between the big players in beer and the big Canadian airlines.
“Typically, their crumbs are my dinner and I don’t think that’d be any different from the aviation space,” said Minhas. “I think it’s fair to say that there’s room for more in the Canadian aviation space for sure.”
Also entering the discount airline market is Lynx Air. The Calgary-based airline announced on Tuesday they intend to have “ultra-affordable” flights beginning in 2022. Lynx Air, however, is planning to start with domestic flights before expanding into the United States and eventually into international markets.
Lynx Air said it plans to follow models in the U.S. and in Europe, and will offer a la carte booking that allows customers flexibility to book different services, such as no baggage or premium seating, for differing costs.