Watch out WestJet. Look out Air Canada. There’s a new competitor in town.
Frontier Airlines, a Denver-based “ultra-low cost airline,” has announced that it will enter the Canadian market next spring with flights between Calgary and its hub in Denver.
Frontier currently offers flights between Denver and dozens of cities in the U.S. and Caribbean for as little as US-$39, although that doesn’t include much more than a seat with minimal legroom. Carry-on luggage costs a minimum of US-$30.
While the no-frills model doesn’t appeal to everyone, ultra-low-cost airlines like Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Spirit Airlines have already brought down prices in the U.S. and Europe.
Aviation analyst Rick Erickson says Frontier’s foray into Canada is good news for consumers.
“You can bet that players operating out of Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, are going to be looking at this and saying, ‘Does it make any sense for us to go into Calgary, or what about other western Canadian destinations?’” he said.
“The winner in all of this will be consumers,” he added.
It’s not just American airlines getting in on the game.
WOW Air, based in Iceland, started providing ultra-low-cost flights to dozens of European cities from Toronto and Montreal in 2015.
Meanwhile, Flair Airlines (formerly NewLeaf), is now flying between cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton for as low as $79. Its optional fees include everything from $10.50 to $11.50 to check in at the airport (as opposed to online) and $31.50 and up for carry-on baggage.
A proposed airline called Jetlines is also in the works, with plans for flights from Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton, Ont.
Earlier this year, WestJet also said it is planning an ultra-low-cost airline.
And Air Canada responded by saying it was considering expanding its low-cost Rouge service.
Changes to federal regulations could encourage investment in even more carriers. Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said last fall that the Liberal government plans to raise the foreign ownership cap for airlines to 49 per cent from 25 per cent.
With a report from CTV Calgary and files from The Canadian Press