By Kalai Raajan
Canada’s Lynx Air Begins Selling Tickets for April Launch
Lynx Air, Canada’s newest ultra-low-cost carrier, will begin commercial flights in April, with tickets on sale now for seven domestic routes throughout the country. The Canadian airline has seven destinations in all, covering five locations and offering 39 weekly flights during the peak summer season. Lynx will compete with three to five airlines each route, using its own Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Merren McArthur, former CEO of Tigerair Australia, will lead the airline, which will initially operate three Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from Calgary International Airport. The airline wants to service Kelowna, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg from its Alberta headquarters. It will also operate flights from Vancouver to Kelowna, Toronto and Winnipeg.
Lynx was earlier called Enerjet, a Calgary-based charter airline that specialized in transporting oil-sands workers to job sites in Alberta, as well as contract work for tour operators. However, in late 2018, it announced ambitions to turn into an ultra-low-cost carrier, supported by Canadian investors and private equity firm Indigo Partners, which is behind success stories such as Frontier Airlines and Wizz Air.
It will be one of four airlines on the airport-pair this summer, alongside Air Canada, WestJet and Flair. Indeed, all of the initial routes, which are detailed below, will compete with Flair.
- Calgary to Kelowna: starts April 15th, 3x weekly in August; competing with WestJet, Air Canada, Flair
- Calgary to Toronto Pearson: April 14th, 1x daily; Air Canada, WestJet, Flair, Air Transat
- Calgary to Vancouver: April 8th, 2x daily; Air Canada, WestJet, Flair
- Calgary to Winnipeg: April 19th, 4x weekly; WestJet, Air Canada, Flair
- Kelowna to Vancouver: April 15th, 2x weekly; Air Canada, WestJet, Air North, Central Mountain Air, Flair
- Toronto to Vancouver: April 28th, 1x daily; Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Flair
- Vancouver to Winnipeg: April 19th, 2x weekly; WestJet, Air Canada, Flair
Lynx’s network approach stands in stark contrast to the majority of startup airlines, which deliberately seek out underserved markets. Breeze, for example, will avoid well-served major airport pairs in the U.S. Instead, it will primarily focus on developing new non-stops in leisure areas, with the remainder in seriously underserved destinations.
Despite competing with Flair on every route, ultra-low-cost carriers – which use their lower seat-mile costs to provide stronger price-based competition – will still have only a small proportion of flights in most markets. It’s especially low compared with most other major countries, which wasn’t lost on Lynx. When the startup is included, about 10% of Vancouver-Winnipeg flights and Calgary-Toronto, only about 8% will be about by ultra-low-cost carriers, Cirium data shows.
Lynx sees a need for more price-based competition in order to increase markets.
McArthur told an aviation publication that Lynx’s business approach will aim to boost demand and cut fares rather than to capture market share.
“ULCCs represent just 12% of the Canadian market right now, and in some regions, it’s only 3%,” she said. “If you look at Europe, the representation is around 42%. There are huge opportunities to stimulate demand here.” Over the next seven years, Lynx has firm orders and lease arrangements in place for 46 Boeing 737 MAX family aircraft. McArthur stated that the ULCC plans to have six ships in its fleet by the end of 2022.
According to the OAG Schedules Analyzer, Lynx will face competition from both Air Canada and WestJet on all seven itineraries. Furthermore, Flair Airlines, a fellow ULCC, presently operates four of the seven routes but plans to fly all seven by May. Lynx aims to operate 76 flights per week by May, and McArthur stated that more destinations will be added during the summer 2022 season. She told Routes that there is “an opportunity in eastern Canada that is potentially underserved” but all domestic markets that are unserved or underserved by an LCC are under evaluation.
McArthur noted that transborder links to the U.S. would be added later.