This article has been updated as of 11:15 a.m. EST.
Flair Airlines is cancelling all summer flights operating out of Abbotsford, B.C. effective this June.
READ MORE: Flair launches 90-day unlimited flying pass
Speaking with PAX this morning, CEO Jim Scott cites an intense focus on the Abbotsford-Edmonton route by its main competitor, Swoop, resulting in an excessive appearance of cheap tickets.
"Abbotsford is going to be dropped off the summer schedule; it's not that we're pulling out right now, but it won't be included this summer," Scott told PAX. "We want to go after the Abbotsford market, but right now, there's too much low-cost ticket inventory. We're talking tens of thousands of those tickets in that Abbotsford to Edmonton return, and we're just not prepared to go into that market until it's been stabilized."
According to Scott, Flair was hoping that the Competition Bureau would step in and help, but the airline has received no support as of yet. In 2018, the Competition Bureau launched an ongoing predatory pricing investigation into Swoop and WestJet over allegations the two carriers used anti-competitive practices to crowd out Flair from at least three routes.
"We're prepared to come back into Abbotsford if the matter of low-cost airfares being dumped into the market is dealt with," Scott added.
Flair currently operates 12 flights between Abbotsford and Edmonton each week. Seasonal service began Sept. 9, 2019 and is scheduled to run through Mar. 28, 2020.
Swoop, Flair's only competitor along the route, operates 16 flights per week in winter and 24 flights per week in summer. From Abbotsford, Swoop flies to Hamilton, ON; Winnipeg, MB; London, ON; Edmonton, AB, and Las Vegas, NV.
As a result of cancelling service out of Abbotsford, flights between the Lower Mainland city and Kelowna, B.C., Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto will also cease. Flair says no passengers will face cancellations as a result of the Abbotsford pullout.
With Abbotsford out, Flair is turning its attention towards Atlantic Canada, and will use the two planes that formerly served Abbotsford to serve Charlottetown, PEI; Saint John, N.B.; and Halifax, N.S.
All flights will be operated via the Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-400. The 400s were out of Abbotsford; the planes seat anywhere from 156 to 189 passengers, and flights to Atlantic Canada will operate seven days a week with varying route schedules.
Flair will also start flying to Ottawa as of June 15, 2020, Scott confirmed.
"Eastern Canada is served with a lot of turbo prop airplanes that don't have proper jet service, and airfares are very expensive in Atlantic Canada," Scott said. "We're able to offer lower, more affordable airfares, and we find we can allow a group of people who don't normally fly, the opportunity to do so. We want to bring that to Atlantic Canada."
What about the unlimited flying pass?
Flair recently announced a brand new unlimited flying pass which would ultimately allow passengers to fly across Canada between Feb. 13 – May 13, 2020 as often as they like.
Two flying passes are currently available; a basic package for $499 and an unlimited package for $699. The sale ends today (Feb. 12).
Because the Abbotsford cancellations will take place in June, passengers who booked flights to and from Abbotsford from any of the airline's gateways will not be affected through the unlimited flying pass' three-month travel period, which ends May 13, 2020.
Flair currently flies out of Toronto (YYZ), Abbotsford (YXX), Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Kelowna (YLW), Vancouver (YVR), and Winnipeg (YWG).
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