No big discounts in sight on holiday plane tickets
More airlines will offer flights this winter, but competition shouldn't have an effect on prices yet.
Despite the appearance of new players in the Canadian airline industry, competition should not yet bring down the average price of plane tickets during the busy period of the end of the year, according to industry experts.< /p>
The reason is simple, as Robert Kokonis, president of aviation consulting firm Air Trav, explains: demand suppressed by almost three years of pandemic is still too high .
This is the same problem we saw this summer. People haven't been able to travel to see family over Christmas for a long time, so you're going to see a lot of requests, adds David Gillen, a professor at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. /p>
Nor does the specter of an economic recession seem to encourage Canadians to reduce their travel budget. For now, those factors seem to come second to Canadians' desire to go south, Kokonis adds. He believes the rising cost of living and fear of job loss will start to affect demand next spring and summer.
The demand is there. Our planes are full, full of passengers and we see quite a busy holiday season, confirms Mike Arnot, spokesperson for Flair Airlines. He notes, however, that the carrier's business model allows it to offer cheaper tickets than major airlines throughout the year.
WestJet is also expecting a busy period and has restored the number of destinations it served before the pandemic.
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Since last year, competition has increased in the Canadian airline industry. Since its first flight in April, ultra-low-cost carrier Lynx Air has established around 20 routes in Canada and to the United States. Another company, Jetlines, made its first flight between Toronto and Calgary in early September. Edmonton-based Flair Airlines has also increased its routes.
According to David Gillen, however, these new players still have too little transport capacity to threaten WestJet and Air Canada and force them to lower prices. Flair owns 22 planes, but Lynx only has 6, and Jetlines only 1 in flight.
The carrier Jetlines is expected to receive a second Airbus A320 at the end of November.
And even on the ultra-low-cost carrier side, attracting holiday tourism doesn't fit their business model.
If I'm trying to build a market and reputation, I'm going to want to attract regular travel. […] Flair and Lynx are designed for grandparents visiting grandchildren and workers commuting between jobs and homes, he explains.
The key to the success of these carriers will be to find new travelers, not to delight those of established carriers, summarizes Robert Kokonis.
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He also notes that the costs for air carriers are still very high. According to Statistics Canada, the average price of jet fuel is down from the spring peak, but still 70% higher than in January 2020.
The good news is that is that not all airlines anticipate a repeat of the summer chaos. Long lines, flight cancellations and lost luggage have disrupted travel for many Canadians.
Like last summer, Air Canada has carefully set up its schedule for this period. This has been communicated to all partners in the air transport ecosystem, the carrier said in an email response.
Airlines expect a busy holiday season, but without the problems endless summer wait.
Flair Airlines spokesman Mike Arnot is also reassuring. We are confident that the airports we are flying from have resolved the [staffing] issues this summer, he says.
According to Calgary Airport, all federal agencies at airports will have the necessary staff in place.
The two main airports in Alberta as well as those in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have also established a system that allows travelers to reserve an hour of passage to security.