Canadian charter outfit Nolinor Aviation is bucking the trend of bad aviation news with plans to begin offering holidaygoers flights to Caribbean beaches in the coming months.
The Montreal-based operator has unveiled plans for a passenger airline branded OWG offering flights between Quebec and the Caribbean. The new charter operation will operate Boeing 737-400 jets outfitted with 158 economy seats.
The move, which Nolinor said has been in the works for two years, comes as global air travel is at historic lows due to the coronavirus pandemic. Canada’s three largest airlines Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet have culled much of their schedules and plan fly just 60 flights to the Caribbean in July — less than 10% of what they offered last year, according to Cirium schedules. In a statement, OWG president Marco Prud’homme said the new carrier will focus on the passenger experience as major airlines have “cut the quality of their services year after year”. The inflight service will include protections against COVID-19.
“Our goal is to win the hearts of Quebecers with a new airline whose mission is to get travellers excited again”, he said. Still, the viability of a new airline is questionable. Air Canada has unveiled domestic Canada network cuts that are understood to be a push for government aid to help bridge them — and other airlines — through the crisis. Not to mention that many Caribbean destinations where OWG plans to fly maintain border restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
OWG is not the only new airline eyeing a launch during the pandemic. JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman continues to work towards launching his new venture Breeze Airways though the target start date has been pushed to 2021.
Breeze plans to connect leisure-focused destinations in the southern U.S. with under-served mid-sized cities in the North, like Cincinnati (CVG) and Pittsburgh (PIT). The airline has a deal to acquire used Embraer E195s from Azul, which was also founded by Neeleman, and an order for new Airbus A220s.
Nolinor has flown both passenger and cargo charter services in Canada’s Far North since 1992. It said that it received Transport Canada certification for the new operation on July 6.