Canada's newest airline will head to the skies in April, flying between five destinations before expanding to additional locations in the summer.
Calgary-based Lynx Air announced on Wednesday that it will start flying on April 7, with an inaugural flight taking place between Calgary and Vancouver. The airline will ramp up its schedule from there, flying various routes between Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Kelowna and Vancouver.
Lynx Air chief executive Merren McArthur said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada that the airline selected routes based on analysis of opportunities in the Canadian market.
"Our mission is to make travel accessible and affordable for all Canadians, and so what we are focusing on is markets where we believe the fares have historically been too high and that has prevented lots of people travelling as much as they would like," McArthur, who previously worked as chief executive Tigerair Australia, said.
"By entering these markets that don't have ultra-affordable fares, we are aiming to inspire more people to travel, grab our cheap fares and hopefully travel more often as well."
Lynx is the latest ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) to launch in Canada, offering low base fares while charging for extras such as seat selection and carry-on baggage. Base fares start at $39 for a one-way ticket between Kelowna and Vancouver. One-way fares between Calgary and Vancouver start at $49, while one-way tickets between Calgary and Toronto start at $69.
The airline will initial fly between Calgary and Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Kelowna; Vancouver and Kelowna and Winnipeg; and Toronto and Vancouver. McArthur said the airline plans to expand the route schedule, adding more frequency and destination as the airline receives more aircraft.
"We're starting off with three aircraft and then growing our fleet over the next few months so by summer we'll be flying to a lot more destinations," she said.
Below is the Lynx Air route schedule that will begin in April:
Calgary, AB – Vancouver, BC
April 7, 2022
Calgary, AB – Toronto, ON
April 11, 2022
Vancouver, BC – Kelowna, BC
April 15, 2022
Calgary, AB – Kelowna, BC
April 15, 2022
Calgary, AB – Winnipeg, MB
April 19, 2022
Vancouver, BC – Winnipeg, MB
April 19, 2022
Toronto, ON – Vancouver, BC
April 28, 2022
Lynx Air is launching in Canada at a time of increased competition in the aviation space. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for smaller airlines to make gains in the Canadian market, with ULCC's such as Flair and WestJet-owned Swoop expanding capacity significantly compared to pre-pandemic levels. That's according to a report last October by National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen, in which he notes Flair Airlines has increased domestic flights and seats by 131 per cent compared to 2019, while Swoop expanded by nearly 11 per cent compared to 2019. At the same time, established carriers such as Air Canada, WestJet and Transat saw capacity decreases compared to 2019 of 43 per cent, 32 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively.
McArthur says Lynx sees opportunity in the Canadian market when it comes to demand from travellers who have been sitting on the sidelines because of high prices.
"We're not really focused on grabbing market share from competitors and more focused on trying to stimulate more travel," she said.
"There's a perception from Canadians that ultra-low cost means poor service, poor experience – cheap and nasty, basically. We want to redefine what people expect from us. It doesn't cost extra to provide great service... and make sure we leverage technology to provide a great flying experience."
McArthur would not disclose the investors behind Lynx, which is privately owned, but said that the airline has "strong financial backing from experienced and expert investors with a combination of skills, including aviation expertise."
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.