'A rebellion against high fares': New low cost airline launching in Hamilton

A new ultra-low cost airline that claims it will have the lowest base fares in Canada is launching out of the Hamilton and Waterloo airports in June of 2018.

Canada Jetlines to be based out of Hamilton and Waterloo

A new low cost airline called Canada Jetlines is launching out of the Hamilton airport. (Canada Jetlines)

A new ultra-low cost airline that claims it will have the lowest base fares in Canada is launching out of the Hamilton and Waterloo airports in June of 2018.

Stan Gadek, CEO of  Canada Jetlines, made an announcement about the new carrier's plans in Toronto on Monday.

"As Canadians, why are you paying so much for airfare? I don't understand it. You don't have to," Gadek said.

"The industry has evolved to the extent now where carriers have lower cost structures, lower price of fuel, lower input costs – and yet air fares are extremely high here in Canada. There's no rational basis for that."

"We're going to start a rebellion against high fares in Canada."

The move comes as Hamilton's airport more than doubled its passenger numbers in the first six months of this year, compared to the first half of 2016. The airport currently hosts flights operated by five passenger carriers: Flair (formerly NewLeaf), Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines.

Passenger numbers at Hamilton's airport have long fallen short of expectations, dropping more than 100,000 since 2009. But the new discount airlines, and the bigger carriers trying to compete with them, appear to be turning that trend around. 

About 10 per cent of them are coming from Buffalo and upstate New York, according to a report from the airport.

Gadek said that Canada Jetlines will launch on June 1 in 2018, with two 189-seat aircrafts, configured for all coach seating.

The airline will start with flights from Hamilton and Waterloo to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Halifax.

There will be a "soft start" for 60 days, Gadek said, so the company can demonstrate to Transport Canada that they can operate in accordance with procedure. Then, he said, expansion will ramp up.

After 60 days from launch, Canada Jetlines says it will add two more planes, and expand to 14 locations, including St. John's Las Vegas and Orlando.

These are the destinations that Canada Jetlines says it will serve by April of 2019. (Canada Jetlines)

Six months in, the company plans to add two more planes for a total of six, and fly to 23 markets, including Tampa, Fla. And Cancun.

"This will be a fairly rapid expansion," Gadek said.

The company also claims it will have the lowest costs of any airline in Canada or the U.S.

"How low will those fares go? Well, I like to say it will be about the same cost as a pair of jeans, quite honestly," Gadek said. He did not give specific indications of prices, but said base fares will usually be under $100.

Exact prices will depend on the market and the time of the year, he said.

The company will be competing with other low cost carriers like NewLeaf, which was bought out by Flair Airlines.

The two companies have been linked since NewLeaf launched last summer, offering flights for as little as $59 one way between Canadian cities such as Abbotsford, Halifax, Edmonton, Hamilton and Winnipeg.

NewLeaf launched with a rocky start, with the Consumers' Association of Canada issuing an alert concerning NewLeaf and Flair over what it called "arbitrary cancellations and alterations to flight dates and times."

Canada's aviation history is littered with airlines that either went out of business or failed to get off the ground.