BRITISH COLUMBIA

Canada Jetlines Ltd., Vancouver-Based Airline, To Offer Cheap Flights

11/29/2013 12:24 EST | Updated 11/29/2013 12:52 EST
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A group of aviation veterans is working to launch a Vancouver-based airline that would offer cheap flights throughout western Canada.

Canada Jetlines Ltd., which would fly under the name "Jetlines," is the brainchild of David Solloway, Jim Scott and Dix Lawson, and their vision is to offer low-cost flights to areas such as Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Edmonton and Winnipeg, with long-term plans to fly internationally to Orlando, Las Vegas and Cabo St. Lucas, The Financial Post reports.

“We think there’s a vacuum,” Solloway, who used to work at Canadian Pacific Air Lines, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines and Air China, told the newspaper.

"We think we can fill it as a British Columbia-based airline."

The company would be modeled after low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines. An investor briefing cited by the Post states that a flight from Vancouver to Prince George would cost $72, compared with an Air Canada flight at $144.

But launching the airline would largely depend on how much interest the founders can generate from investors.

They're raising $1 million in seed money through Robson Capital Markets, and there are plans to raise an additional $25 million in financing with Salman Partners Inc., The Globe and Mail reported.

From there, the investors hope to raise $25 million in each of three additional rounds of financing, and long-term plans for the airline could be solidified if they manage to raise $101 million in total.

Jetlines plans to introduce two Airbus A319 planes next summer and expand to 16 planes by 2017.

Solloway told The Province that he's already spoken with Shirley Bond, B.C.'s minister of jobs, tourism and skills training, about flying workforces to northern communities..

The company has also spoken with airports in Prince Rupert, a site for proposed LNG terminals.

The current average fare for a flight from Vancouver to Prince Rupert is $232 and Jetlines could tackle the same route for $93, Solloway said.

A search of Air Canada flights, however, found that one-way trips can cost as much as $441.

Lindsay Meredith of SFU's Beedie School of Business told The Province that LNG development could create a lucrative travel market if resource plans go ahead.

As it stands, Jetlines may not be without competition among cheaper carriers. Calgary's Enerjet is rumoured to be seeking financing for a low-cost operation, the Post reported.

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