12/09/2014 12:46 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST

Air Canada shifts domestic routes to low-cost carrier Rouge

Air Canada Rouge will fly domestically for the first time next summer as Air Canada restructures its routes to take advantage of the lower-cost carrier.

New seasonal routes will be launched between Calgary and Halifax, while Rouge also takes over routes from Toronto to Kelowna, B.C. and to Sydney, N.S.

Air Canada Rouge is branded as a leisure airline, and until now has provided service to routes in Europe, the Caribbean, the U.S. and Mexico.  It began business from Toronto and Montreal in 2013 and announced expansion into Vancouver and Calgary earlier this year. 

The airline says it has a strategy of expanding services on its lower-cost carrier as part of its plan for "profitable growth."

Passengers have complained about the smaller seats, lack of legroom and lack of complimentary food on Rouge.

Rouge will fly the 136-seat Airbus A319 aircraft between Calgary and Halifax six times a week beginning May 1.

A new Rouge route is be added from Montreal to Mexico City, starting May 2.

In addition, starting May 2015, Air Canada will transfer to Rouge its Calgary-Varadero,  Montreal-Varadero and Montreal-Martinique routes.

Air Canada is introducing new non-stop services from Calgary-Terrace; Calgary-Nanaimo; Vancouver-Comox and Toronto-Austin. Air Canada Jazz will operate the new routes.

Benjamin Smith, president of passenger airlines, said there is a growing business market between Calgary and destinations in Northern B.C. and Vancouver Island.