Re­gional air­port aims to en­tice new air­lines with ex­clu­sive routes

Waterloo Region Record - - LOCAL - Jo­hanna Wei­d­ner, Record staff

BRES­LAU — The Re­gion of Water­loo In­ter­na­tional Air­port will start of­fer­ing ex­clu­sive rights to fly to new des­ti­na­tions out of Bres­lau, in a bid to at­tract more air­lines, in par­tic­u­lar fledg­ling low­cost car­ri­ers.

The re­gion an­nounced Fri­day it’s putting out a call for pro­pos­als from Canadian car­ri­ers in­ter­ested in two-year ex­clu­sive ac­cess to a spe­cific route.

“That will give the air­line a chance to build its mar­ket and achieve suc­cess be­fore it’s sub­ject to di­rect com­pe­ti­tion on that route,” said Rod Regier, the re­gion’s com­mis­sioner for plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment.

“We want to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where a car­rier, par­tic­u­larly a new air­line, has max­i­mum op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed in our mar­ket.”

He said the re­gion is ex­cited about the new strat­egy, but also cau­tiously op­ti­mistic it will boost the flights avail­able lo­cally.

“We also want to tem­per ex­pec­ta­tions here,” Regier said. “If we don’t get any pro­pos­als from this process, it will still set the stage for us to do this in the fu­ture.”

While the re­quest for pro­pos­als opens in Oc­to­ber and closes in Jan­uary, the re­gion will con­tinue to con­sider bids for time-lim­ited ex­clu­sive route rights.

“It’s the ad­di­tion of an­other tool to re­cruit new air ser­vice,” Regier said.

He said the re­gion’s air­port is the only one in Canada — other than Billy Bishop in Toronto — that re­stricts ac­cess to car­ri­ers, a rel­a­tively new and unique con­cept in Canada. Gov­ern­ment-owned air­ports can’t limit ser­vice.

“We can do it be­cause we’re owned by a mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Regier said.

The re­gion has been in dis­cus­sion with all of the new startup air­lines, in­clud­ing ul­tra-low­cost car­rier Canada Jet­lines.

Jet­lines an­nounced ear­lier this week it would fly out of Hamil­ton when it launches next sum­mer, serv­ing mar­kets in Canada, the United States and Mex­ico.

“They’re aware of the process we’re launch­ing,” Regier said. “They’re cer­tainly in­ter­ested in our air­port.”

Water­loo Re­gional Coun. Tom Gal­loway said the new pol­icy will give a leg up to new air­lines try­ing to start up “in a very com­pet­i­tive and volatile en­vi­ron­ment,” or any air­line that wants to start a new route.

“They see this ex­clu­siv­ity mat­ter as some­thing re­ally at­trac­tive to them,” Gal­loway said. “It does give them some sta­bil­ity and cer­tainty.”

The eval­u­a­tion process will favour air­lines with pro­pos­als for mul­ti­ple routes, that base air­craft in Bres­lau, and es­tab­lish head­quar­ters and other oper­a­tions or ac­tiv­i­ties in the re­gion.

“We may get some re­sponse, we may not,” Gal­loway said.

A num­ber of ul­tra-low-cost air­lines started emerg­ing in the past year, in part due to the Canadian gov­ern­ment re­lax­ing for­eign own­er­ship re­stric­tions in an ef­fort to en­cour­age the en­try of new air­lines into the mar­ket and cre­ate more af­ford­able air op­tions for Canadian trav­ellers.

Canada is cur­rently the only coun­try among the G7 coun­tries that does not have an ul­tra-low­cost op­er­a­tor.

“They’re all jock­ey­ing to en­ter this mar­ket and of course the mar­ket is ready,” Regier said. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity for the Canadian air pas­sen­ger.”

The Bres­lau air­port’s pri­mary catch­ment area, in a 35-kilo­me­tre ra­dius, gen­er­ates about 2.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally, 95 per cent fly­ing through Toronto Pear­son, Hamil­ton, Toronto Billy Bishop, Buf­falo, Detroit or Lon­don air­ports.

“We’re get­ting very lit­tle of that through our own air­port,” Regier said.

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