Citing Alberta’s business-friendly environment and huge corporate support, a new airline formed by a trio of former Canada 3000 pilots has chosen Edmonton as a base from which to launch flights to Europe and sun destinations starting late this fall.
Canada West Airlines will offer full service on two Boeing 757 aircraft from Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, marketed through its subsidiary, Canada West Holidays. Former Canada 3000 Holidays vice-president Richard Carlin will manage the distribution and marketing side, while ex-Canada 3000 staff and pilots will also be on board.
“We’re very confident this is going to come together,” said Canada West Airlines CEO Gordon Andrews, a former Canada 3000 pilot, in an interview from Vancouver.
Along with partners and former pilots Leagh Farrell and John Scott, the team has retained Octagon Capital Corporation to raise $22 million through private placement for the startup.
Farrell was a former certification test pilot with Transport Canada before joining Canada 3000. Scott was an accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board in Ottawa and national flight safety committee chairman of the Airline Pilots Association of Canada.
“Being based in the West is an important component – this market has continued to be underserved since the demise of Canada 3000,” Andrews said. “The lack of competition in the industry has been a bone of contention among consumers for quite some time, and we believe there will be solid support for this.”
The airline’s operation, maintenance and head office will be based in Edmonton, with a call centre and support facility in Vancouver. A total of 185 jobs will be created, including 125 flight crew and 60 in support and management positions.
The airline will offer charter service featuring premium leg room to niche-market sun destinations in winter, and to Europe primarily in the summer months.
The company is negotiating a lease arrangement for two 757 narrow-bodied aircraft stored in the U.S. In its first year of operation, the carrier estimates it will bring more than 166,000 seats into the Western market.
While Andrews says specific destinations and flight schedules aren’t being revealed at this time for competitive purposes, they are expected to include Mexico, the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany and Hawaii.
Community support from the Edmonton area “has been phenomenal,” Andrews added, including support from Edmonton Airports and the city’s Economic Development Edmonton team.
Andrews noted that Edmonton’s forecasted GDP growth of 3.5 per cent in 2002, plus its catchment area of 1.8 million people and the fact it was the only major airport in Canada to enjoy positive passenger growth (2.5 per cent) in 2001, were all powerful incentives to base the business in Edmonton.