big [geographically as Canada] it is a very large country and there are three LCCs. There’s a unique situation in Canada, as there’s a lot of demand in winter [to fly to the sun] due to the amazing weather. That’s another huge opportunity for the LCCs as in general they do better with leisure travellers.” He adds recent changes in Canadian financial regulations, which allow investors outside the country to now hold a 49% financial stake, have also made it easier to launch. He says: “That’s been tempting LCCs to launch here in Canada and that’s helping us as we speak.” Furthermore, Suarez believes the lack of any serious LCC competition in Canada will make the job of route development easier compared to other parts of the world. He adds: “When you’re working

on an LCC and you start to explore route opportunities, the best scenario is where there’s only one or just a couple of legacy carriers operating because as soon as you go into the route you’re going to be stimulating a lot of new traffic. “If you try to find a route like this

in Europe, there’s not a single one now. In Mexico there were a few maybe four years ago but there’s nothing now – it’s saturated.” Nor is Suarez simply banking on a benign

environment to make Jetlines a success. He is also counting on lessons learnt in his previous roles working for other LCCs, including Vueling and VivaAerobus. He says: “We are going to focus on

cost. We know that is the right model as cost is king and we know it gives us a competitive advantage.”

The bottom line In order to achieve this, Suarez adds anything that would add to the cost of a seat, like in-built entertainment systems, are being stripped out in order to ensure the airline’s financial success. He says: “If your cost is not low then

you’re not going to make any money and that’s not what we’re here for. Similar to Ryanair in Europe, we want to be the most profitable carrier; we’re definitely going to be the price leader and also the leader in terms of profitability.” As with seemingly every other airline,

Suarez is also planning on focusing heavily on technology to drive Jetlines’ fortunes. He says: “We’re building an ecommerce platform providing very personalised 

“We want to be the most profitable carrier; we’re definitely going to be the price leader and also the leader in terms of profitability”

Cancun is a favourite destination for Canadians flying south to escape the harsh winter

strategy is key to success


Despite being forced into a rethink over its initial launch plans, Jetlines CEO Javier Suarez is confident in the airline’s route development strategy. He says the previous management team announced last year that it would

initially operate out of Ontario’s John C Munro Hamilton International Airport. However, the plans were thrown into disarray after

rival LCC Swoop announced the airport, nestled between the country’s Great Lakes, had a key role to play in their route development strategy. Suarez says: “I really believe Hamilton is a great

opportunity. However, now that we see Swoop going in to do exactly the same kind of routes we were going to operate, we have been forced to change. “We are going to start up in Vancouver International

Airport. It’s a great airport with one of the lowest costs per passenger of the main airports in Canada. We want to avoid competing with Swoop. We don’t think Swoop is going to be jumping into Vancouver, as that would be cannibalising [its owner] WestJet’s operations.” While he admitted the normal business model for

start-up LCCs is to operate out of secondary airports initially before moving to primary ones once established, he admitted his strategy was born out of necessity. Suarez says: “We’re going to start out of a primary

airport but in the long-term we’re going to be flying to secondary airports as well. We just need to avoid competing with Swoop directly because we do not have their financial muscle.” He adds he is also keen to avoid mistakes he believes other LCCs have made, in particular introducing routes only to pull them shortly afterwards if they fail to perform. Suarez wouldn’t reveal his exact strategy due to

concerns about giving away too much information to his rivals, but he did outline it with broad strokes, saying: “We are going to operate domestically year round and then we are going to be flying internationally to the US, Mexico and Caribbean in the winter. Some of the US and Mexican routes can also be maintained in the summer.” One destination he did confirm the airline would

provide future service from – using the Routes Americas event to sign an initial agreement – is Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. ROUTES NEWS 2019 ISSUE 2 35

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