A new ultra-low-cost carrier is looking to shake up the travel market with rock-bottom prices as the travel industry attempts to recover from its COVID-19 hangover.
The first flight from Lynx Air touched down in Winnipeg this week, a landing that company CEO Merren McArthur says heralds a new era of travellers spending less and experiencing more.
“We want to be the airline that links Canadians to their favourite people and places,” she says.
Lynx will fly to 10 cities across the country but will only connect Winnipeg with Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Service to Calgary and Vancouver – two flights per week each— has already begun and on May 5, it will add two flights per week to Toronto and double its Calgary offering to four.
By that point, the carrier will have 16 flights in and out of Winnipeg with more than 3,000 seats.
Lynx’s ultra-low-cost model offers services a la carte. The base fare includes just your seat. If you’d like to bring a bag, either carry-on or checked, it will cost you between 29.99 to $49.99 depending on the distance, choosing your seat will cost between $20 and $40, also depending on the distance, and it will set you back $10 to board your flight early.
Long-time travel writer Ron Pradinuk wasn’t surprised to see other airlines immediately match Lynx’s prices for flights taking place at the same time. Fares at other times and days, however, have remained the same.
“When you have a new entrant, you know Air Canada and WestJet are going to match the fares. They’re going to test Lynx and make it as unattractive as possible (for them). They’ll advertise more in our city,” he says.
“This is a pattern. It makes it harder for new entrants to get a foothold. Some of them do, some of them don’t.”
Pradinuk says Lynx’s timing is opportunistic as many travellers are intent on “revenge flying.”
“They’re determined to get back on a plane to go someplace. They’re so sick and tired (of the pandemic). They’re saying, ‘I’m getting back at COVID,’” he says.
Lynx’s decision to fly into Toronto differentiates it from some of its predecessors that have only connected Western Canada to Hamilton in the east. (Lynx flies into Hamilton, too.)
“That changes the equation. Going east, that could be a game-changer for them,” he says.
Lynx operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. Its business plan calls for expanding it to 46 planes in the next five to seven years.