NewLeaf to announce new 'ultra low cost' airline in Hamilton Wednesday

Similar airlines forgo amenities for cheaper fares.
New air carrier NewLeaf travel is holding a press conference at The Hamilton International Airport Wednesday. (CBC)

Travel company NewLeaf Travel is set to announce its promised new "ultra low cost" airline in Hamilton Wednesday.

According to a press release, the company plans to share information about pricing, booking details and non-stop routes at the John C. Munro Hamilton Airport at 11 a.m.

The launch will come months after initially planned, as NewLeaf had hoped to be operational by last summer. It missed the travel season while it was getting off the ground.

"The idea is that we are trying to lower the airfares," airline head Jim Young told CBC News back in April. "We're focusing on secondary airports. We don't like high-cost airports like Vancouver, Calgary, (Toronto) Pearson." In the west, Young is aiming to fly into Abbotsford, B.C., instead of Vancouver International.

Young has said the company hopes to look like the budget Ryanair in Europe, or Spirit or Allegiant airlines in the United States.

The company will sell packages with hotels and rental cars to Canadian and U.S. holiday destinations. But it will also hope to fill a low-cost flight niche for bare-bones customers looking for "a seat and a seatbelt" for casual travel.

These kinds of carriers typically have fewer daily flights, as well as no bonuses like in flight entertainment or frequent flyer points.

The company is partnering with Kelowna, B.C.-based Flair Airlines, a private charter airline, for aircraft, maintenance and crews. Rather than buying planes from scratch, partnering with Flair will cut out some of the operational hurdles to getting a new airline off the ground, Young said previously.

When reached Monday, a company representative said all details on flight destinations and prices are being saved for Wednesday's press conference.

Passenger numbers at Hamilton's airport have been dropping for years. For years the bulk of its traffic has been cargo rather than passenger.

"Strategically we see Hamilton International as an Airport well suited to an ultra-low cost carrier model, and would welcome New Leaf Travel Co. or any other low cost carrier to Hamilton Airport when looking to enter southern Ontario," airport marketing director Lauren Yaksich said in April.

Air Canada delayed the launch of its similar "rouge" flights between Hamilton and Calgary after a plane crash in Halifax last March threw off the company's fleet numbers.


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