FlairAir leaves Kelowna, makes Edmonton home

Low cost air carrier has flown the coop

The company that less than a year ago pitched itself as “Kelowna’s airline” is moving.

FlairAir executives announced this week that the ultra-low cost carrier will not only be making Edmonton International Airport its main transfer hub, it will also move its headquarters to Alberta’s capital.

“As such, that makes us Edmonton’s hometown airline,” Flair executive chairman David Tait said at the announcement Tuesday morning in downtown Edmonton.

Flair currently has 76 employees in Edmonton and it just trained 38 new flight attendants, with 30 of them coming from the Edmonton area. It’s expected the area will get more than 300 jobs from the move when all is said and done.

That said, a similar boost was expected in Kelowna, and 3.3 local jobs were supposed to be created for every 1,000 annual flights out of the area, said Jim Scott, president and Chief Executive Officer of Flair Airline, in January.

At last count there were 50 local jobs associated to the Kelowna headquarters.

Some positions will stay in Kelowna as the airline will continue to offer a couple of non-stop flights a week to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Others will migrate to Edmonton, although it’s unclear if the people who hold them are going, too.

Mayor Colin Basran is optimistic that Kelowna’s aviation related industries are still in a good position going forward and more opportunities should arise for those who may choose to stay behind.

“Of course it’s disappointing, and the biggest concern I have is for the employees and their families,” said Basran.

“But this won’t have any operational impacts on our airport.”

Basran said the city of Kelowna owns property on the westside of airport and they’re opening it up to aviation related businesses and there has been “great interest.”

“It’s bad news, but is it a sign for things to come? No, we are going in another direction,” said Basran.

READ MORE: FLAIR AIR CALLS KELOWNA HOME

In an interview earlier this year FlairAir said it chose Kelowna for its home base because of its vacation appeal.

“If you have low prices how do you stimulate the market and (do you) have a market that can be stimulated?” Scott said, noting Kelowna, adding that Kelowna had a Vegas-like appeal.

“Every plane that touches down is a job creator. We would like to draw people in from the US. There are 300 million people down there and with the US exchange … there’s skiing and the sun. Good value for them.”

Edmonton on the other hand, they said during the press conference, has greater population density.

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@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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