01/14/2014 14:42 EST | Updated 03/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Air Canada Rouge to expand to Vancouver, Calgary

Discount airline Air Canada Rouge, which began service last July out of Toronto and Montreal, is preparing the fly out of Vancouver and Calgary beginning this spring.

The unit of Air Canada has put out a call to hire new flight attendants who live in the Vancouver area.

It says details of routes and fares out of Vancouver and Calgary will be announced in the coming weeks.

Airline analyst Robert Kokonis said its good news for the travelling public.

"We'll see Rouge flying to a number of destinations where Air Canada has already flown to in the past. And also we expect to see, especially in Europe, a rollout of additional destinations where previously the carrier did not have a presence." 

However, Kokonis warned that "discount airline" may not mean what consumers hope it does. 

"It won't necessarily bring lower fares to consumers. I think there is a bit of a misnomer when people hear low cost carrier, which Rouge is. It's simply lower cost will enable Air Canada to make out a better result."

He said a low cost carrier is simply more competitive when it comes to profit and the bottom line. 

Expanding fleet

In the meantime, it has plans to hire hundreds of flight attendants. The low cost carrier currently employs 220 workers in Toronto and Montreal and plans to increase its workforce to 650 by the end of 2014, it said in a news release.

The number of Rouge aircraft, which will be 16 planes by April, will increase to 33 by year end, hinting at a rapid expansion for the leisure carrier.

The flight attendants hired for the western expansion must live within a 90-minute drive of the Vancouver airport. Those serving routes out of Calgary will shuttle from Vancouver on Air Canada flights.

Air Canada Rouge said it plans to have 110 new crew members beginning training by mid-January and to begin interviews for more crew later in the month.

Air Canada Rouge currently flies to destinations in Europe and the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States.

Air Canada launched the low-cost carrier to hold on to market share in a field crowded with other vacation-oriented carriers such as Transat, Sunwing and WestJet Airlines.

The carrier pays its crews lower wages and benefits than its mainline counterpart and squeeze more seats onto the plane than the regular Air Canada design.

Air Canada stock increased by 300 per cent on Canadian markets last year, more than any other stock on the TSX, on an improved outlook because of restructuring and the creation of Rouge.