In the world of budget airlines, wings continue to take to the skies, and October is proving to bear more fruit from a group of ultra-low-cost airlines.
First, Lynx and Flair Airlines start another battle for Alberta as they fight for more routes and market share. No one will miss the action, and newcomer Canada Jetlines has decided to double down on its product shortly after launch.
Let’s dive into the upstart’s new route and its decision to add a second Airbus A320 to its small fleet.
New routes and aircraft
Canada Jetlines has always been a bit of an iconoclast. Once upon a time, their catchphrase was set to the hauntingly witty phrase “pay less, fly worse”.
Alas, that slogan didn’t survive the final product flying today, but its eventual fate dictates Jetlines’ strategy: to change flight paths when necessary.
When the airline returns for its maiden flight on September 22, 2022, it operates the aforementioned flight between Toronto and Calgary, a very popular route for modern budget airlines. It also means temporarily halting the airline’s ambitions to serve less-traveled areas like Niagara Falls and Winnipeg.
However, company management must feel positive about the rewards for their efforts. While Toronto to Calgary will remain the main route on Jetlines, the new route was announced on October 19, 2022.
The new route will take Jetlines’ upcoming second aircraft, also an Airbus A320, connecting Toronto to Vancouver.
There must be a sense of urgency, as the second route is scheduled to open in December 2022, just in time for the busy Christmas leisure travel season. The hope is that the company will try to get passengers and luggage to their destination in time, barring any problems with its two planes.
With moves to expand its fleet and tap into larger markets, Jetlines clearly sees itself as a serious contender in the budget travel space of the future, even committing to operating a fleet of 15 aircraft by 2025. Such a competitive market, but is this a tenable strategy?
Can Jetlines compete in YVR?
As a Westerner, and a fan of Edmontons and the Oilers, I have to look at Vancouver with admiration and envy. As one of the warmest cities on the Canadian coast and a gateway airport to Asia, it’s no surprise that so many airlines are trying to fly to this Pacific Coast gem.
But one has to wonder: Is there a suitable value proposition to fly to YVR, with so many competing airlines trying to sell its tickets?
Let’s take a look at the various costs and schedules you can expect to see when flying this venerable Toronto-Vancouver route with Jetlines and its competitors.
First, let’s take a look at Canada Jetlines in January 2023, a month after the new route’s inaugural flight:
The decision to fly from Toronto-Vancouver on Friday and Sunday and back on Saturday and Monday appears to be aimed at weekend warrior travelers.
In terms of pricing, $300 to $310 from Pearson doesn’t seem like a total steal unless they can be combined with a limited $125 round-trip fare.
For a product guaranteed to be an essential product, it’s hard to see that $425 round-trip is a lot of money, especially with nickel and dimming on guaranteed seats and amenities like luggage.
This lack of value is even more apparent when comparing Jetlines to a comparable ultra-low-cost competitor, the Lynx Air:
As you can see, Lynx is flying the Toronto-Vancouver route every dayas long as you are willing to avoid weekend flights or holidays, it is relatively simple to go westbound at $69 and reverse at $72.26.
Sure, you have to pack a small personal item for a trip like this, but how is Jet Canada and its extra plane supposed to go beyond that?
Without further ado, Flair Airlines has a similar trend, and YYZ-YVR has multiple $69 fares:
What’s more, Canada Jetlines will compete not only with airlines in their own price categories, but also with legacy carriers such as WestJet and the ever-vigilant Air Canada.
Let’s take a quick look at WestJet, one of the premier commercial aviation organizations in the West.
At $136 outbound and $130 return, the final bill for a basic economy fare was just $236, a full $154 less than the Canada Jetlines price I found earlier. In this case, what plans does the young upstart have to offer better value to customers?
As guilty as Jetlines’s Boxer Lager stock is, paying for this half-drinking swill out of your own pocket when one can fly on a full-service airline to stock up on a drink that actually resembles beer disgust.
Canada Jetlines has expanded its fleet from one Airbus A320 to two and will begin servicing Toronto–Vancouver itinerary this Christmas.
With any luck, this will be the first step towards their stated goal of serving many less-flyed regions of Canada with a fleet of 15 aircraft.
For now, the airline will have to compete with more players for the same proverbial pie, albeit a puzzling lack of a clear value proposition that needs to be addressed if the airline wants to stand out.
Until next time, don’t pay as much for seat selection as you do for shipping.