Flair planning to reduce service to YOW next summer, airport says

Flair airliner

Flair Airlines plans to cut some flights to Ottawa next summer, an airport spokesperson confirmed this week.

The ultra-low-cost airline recently informed Ottawa International Airport that there will be “some decreases in service” to the nation’s capital beginning in the summer of 2024, Krista Kealey, the vice-president of communications and public affairs for the Ottawa International Airport Authority, said late Monday afternoon.

The airport does not have “precise details” of the planned changes to Flair’s schedule yet, Kealey added. 

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The Edmonton-based carrier, which began service in 2017, currently offers non-stop flights to 11 destinations from Ottawa, including Calgary, Cancun, Mexico, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Halifax, Kelowna, Orlando, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.

Kealey said Flair will operate its winter 2023-24 service to Ottawa as planned, including flights to Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Orlando Sanford International Airport.

“With the exception of Victoria, which was served once per week, all routes served by Flair in their 2023 summer schedule are covered by other carriers, rendering our network mostly unchanged,” Kealey said in an email to OBJ.

“Aircraft are portable assets and carriers deploy them to markets they feel will work best for them. We’re always disappointed when our community loses any air service. However, Flair’s reduction offers an opportunity for airlines that are growing quickly at YOW,” she added, referring to the airport by its call letters.

The airline did not respond to requests for comment.

It’s not the first time Flair has scaled back service at YOW since it began flying to Ottawa in 2021. 

The carrier announced last spring it would not be resuming its thrice-weekly direct flights between Charlottetown and Ottawa that were slated to start in June. In addition, Flair scrapped its plan to offer twice-weekly flights between Thunder Bay and Ottawa, service that was also originally scheduled to begin in June.

The latest service cuts come as the Ottawa Airport is trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic, which grounded the majority of the terminal’s flights for the past three years and caused a steep decline in passenger traffic.

A total of 2.7 million travellers used the airport in the first eight months of 2023, nearly matching the 2.99 million passengers that passed through YOW in all of 2022. Earlier this year, the airport authority said it was launching a study to determine when it will be necessary to expand the terminal, which opened in 2003.

Several new routes have been added to YOW’s schedule in 2023 as the airline industry regains momentum after several lean years during the pandemic. They include Porter’s new flights to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and Air France’s non-stop trips to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The Ottawa Airport is predicting about four million passengers will use the facility this year, a 33 per cent increase from 2022, with traffic expected to increase to 4.75 million in 2024. By 2030, the airport authority is projecting that 5.6 million passengers will fly through YOW.

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