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Air Canada's Hamilton flights won't take off for a year

Air Canada is delaying take-off for its "rouge" flights between Hamilton and Calgary to next year after Halifax plane crash affects its fleet numbers.

'Rouge' flights between Hamilton and Calgary deferred to May 2016

Rouge, Air Canada's low-cost subsidiary, won't begin flights between Hamilton and Calgary until May 2016. Rouge began operations at Vancouver International Airport in April with flights to Las Vegas. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Air Canada is delaying take-off for its "rouge" flights between Hamilton and Calgary after the plane crash in Halifax in March threw off the company's fleet numbers, it said.

The airline announced in February it plans to start daily, year-round service between Hamilton and Calgary. It expected to begin service in June, but now the launch has been pushed back to May 2016.

Hamilton airport CEO Frank Scremin said in a statement he is "disappointed" the flights are deferred but that airport staff "look forward to welcoming Air Canada to Hamilton International in May, 2016."

Air Canada said the delay was a "difficult decision" due to "fleet constraints." 

"The aircraft from the Halifax accident in March is unavailable for service," Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said.

The airline is offering refunds or tickets on Toronto-Calgary flights for customers who bought Hamilton-Calgary tickets. 

Rouge was one of three airlines reported to be interested in starting flights out of Hamilton this summer.

In addition to the Air Canada service, two "ultra-low-cost airlines" are eyeing Hamilton for their eastern hub. NewLeaf and Canadian Jetlines have been in talks with Hamilton's airport about providing stripped-down air travel options reminiscent of Ryanair and Easyjet in Europe.

But the upstart companies would face challenges: Europe and the U.S. are more densely populated than Canada. Short-haul flights there can attract more passengers, and even second-tier airports are not that far from major city centres.

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