Flair Airlines Now Live On Amadeus, More GDSs Coming

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Flair Airlines has started selling seats through Amadeus and plans to further open the agency channel by making deals with other GDS systems. The airline has also revealed plans to launch transborder flights to cities including Las Vegas, Boston and New York.

Amadeus users can now book Flair flights, with tickets issued via BSP-Canada and ARC-USA. And around the world, agents can book Flair through an interline agreement with ‘virtual’ carrier Hahn Airlines.

"This agreement is the airline's first step towards joining more global distribution systems in the near future," said Mirza Smajic, Flair’s Director of Passenger Sales and Marketing. 

While acknowledging that it is costly to sell through GDS systems, Smajic told Open Jaw that “the return is bigger” from accessing the agency distribution channel. “We don’t look at agencies as competitors, we see them as partners. Amadeus is just the first step.”

Kelowna-based Flair, a 12-year-old charter carrier which came into the public spotlight after buying discount flight seller NewLeaf Travel, currently operates flights between seven cities in Canada, using five Boeing 737s. The fleet will quickly grow to seven, with new planes arriving in March and June.

Smajic says the airline hopes to have a fleet of 13 by 2019. “We want to become a significant player. We believe Canada needs another choice, and a fresh wind in air travel.”

NewLeaf had initially indicated it would develop a plan to sell through the travel agency channel, but later said the higher distribution costs didn’t work with the ultra-low-cost (ULCC) model. Smajic says the real obstacle for NewLeaf was an old reservation system.

“Our first task and goal was to change the reservation system so we could distribute through GDSs. We are now working with UK-based Videcom International which has APIs linking to all major distribution systems.”

Smajic says announcements will soon come about transborder flights, with Las Vegas one destination that will be served both from the west coast and central Canada. New York and Boston are also in the plans, with service from the Toronto area.

“We will also be working with tour operators to be able to package our flights with hotels and car rentals,” Smajic says.

Flair will also target budget-conscious corporate travellers, by offering fares that offer flexibility and perks for carry-on and checked baggage. 

“We’re very happy with the way things are developing, and we hope to close next year with at least 1 million passengers,” Smajic told Open Jaw.

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