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Flair fails to catch on in Comox

Ultra low cost airline suspends service at YQQ less than three months after initial flight
Flair Airlines will no longer be flying out of YQQ. (File photo)

Less than three months after its inaugural flight from Comox, the ultra low cost carrier Flair has suspended its service at the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ).

Flair Airlines started flying return routes from Comox to Edmonton and Calgary twice per week, on March 29.

The service will end July 16.

“Flair recently advised us that they are stopping service to Comox,” said YQQ chief executive officer, Mike Atkins. “Last day of operations will be July 16.

“They attributed it to challenges with aircraft delivery… and they have had to rework their schedule.”

Atkins said that service will be looked at again in the new year.

Swoop, the other ultra low-cost airline, will maintain its twice-weekly service to Edmonton.

“Obviously we are disappointed to see Flair disappear but over that, we are in a situation where we are still basically guessing at what passenger numbers are going to be, based on the speed of the recovery,” said Atkins. “What we are seeing now at the airport is that people are continuing to travel - those that have made plans - despite the challenges that are currently existing in the air travel industry, worldwide.

“We are continuing to see good numbers - approximately 75 per cent of our pre-pandemic levels. It seems to be holding at about that 75-80 per cent level, but obviously we won’t know more until the middle of next month how July fared.”

Atkins said that while disruptions at YQQ have been minimal, the local airport has not completely avoided travel issues that have been plaguing major airports.

“What we have seen at the Comox Valley Airport are some schedule changes, some delayed flights and some delayed baggage on incoming flights,” he said.

Air Canada changes

Air Canada’s mid-day flight from Comox to Vancouver has been cancelled, until further notice.

“For Air Canada we have basically lost the mid-morning flight,” said Atkins. “We used to be three flights a day to Vancouver; we are now down to two flights a day to Vancouver. (This will be in place) until the airline advises us differently, and I think right now their focus is very short-term. I think once they get their capacity issues sorted out, then potentially we will get some of those flights returning. For right now we have been advised that this will be for July and August.”

WestJet changes

There has been only one WestJet change affecting local travel. A direct flight to Toronto’s Pearson Airport has been scrubbed, after only one trip.

“It came last weekend - it was a one and done kind of thing,” said Atkins. “The week previously they cancelled it, then they ran it, and then they advised us they were going to be cancelling it for the rest of the summer.

“That is all we’ve seen from WestJet. As per normal we have outstanding connections to Calgary and Edmonton, and now with the link service that started last year to Vancouver as well.”

Pacific Coastal changes

None to report.

Arrive two hours early

Atkins said for the most part, the Comox Valley Airport is running smoothly, with close to normal times for passengers to check in and get through security.

“There is a lot of information out there for passengers, and it gets confusing because if you are travelling through Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary, I think the recommendation is to now get there three hours before your flight,” he said. “Operations out of Comox are pretty much normal - a little bit more time, probably, because people are taking a little more time booking in, but we are still recommending no more than two hours ahead of your flight to get through.”

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Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
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