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Discount air carrier announces new flights.

Business travellers in Thunder Bay were dealt some good news this spring when discount air carrier Canada 3000 announced it would add one daily return flight to Toronto at ticket prices substantially lower than Air Canada's.

On May 1, as a result of its acquisition of Royal Airlines and CanJet, Canada 3000 began its scheduled passenger service to Thunder Bay.

Thunder Bay was previously serviced by Royal Airlines. CanJet offered daily flights to Toronto for about three weeks in April, but the company retreated just 12 days before the Canada 3000 May 1 buyout.

Scott McFadden, Thunder Bay International Airport Authority president and chief executive officer, says it is still too early to gauge the impact the new carrier has had on the airport in terms of traffic levels, but he says it is sate to say that Canada 3000 will boost revenue for the airport.

"Obviously, there's a direct benefit for the airport when ever you increase the number of airplanes flying through here; we see an incremental increase in revenue because of that," McFadden says. "I think we tend to look at these things with a much longer view and certainly what has happened in the last year or two is fundamental to the strength of the Thunder Bay and Northern Ontario economy."

Thanks to the introduction of discount airlines like West Jet two years ago, and now Canada 3000, McFadden says average airfares have dropped substantially.

"We've certainly seen the mean airfare decreasing over the last two years, which is the first time that we know of," he says. "Our records go back to 1994 and we've seen about a 14 per cent increase per year on average (to airfares), and of course that gets compounded.

"Last year we had significant decreases in airfares, and I think Canada 3000 is offering about $220 return on their flight to Toronto."

He says Canada 3000's ticket prices are comparable with WestJet, which offers non-stop flights to Hamilton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary.

"Of course you can also connect to Canada 3000's net work. Their schedule actually works out quite well because you leave (Thunder Bay) in times to make connections with Canada 3000's network in Toronto. Similarly, on your return trip you arrive back in Toronto on time to make the 8:30 p.m. flight back to Thunder Bay.

"In many cases you will eliminate the need to stay overnight in Toronto and/or you can go to Toronto for a meeting and come back the same day.

Angela Saclamacis, manager of corporate communications for Canada 3000, says ticket prices to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and St. John's are between 57 and 69 percent lower than Air Canada's full economy fares.

"For example, from Thunder Bay to Toronto, a one-way fare. will vary from $95 to $187," Saclamacis says. "The comparison we have for Air Canada is a one-way fare of $619. That's a savings of 69 per cent.

Passengers with Canada 3000 are not bound by any advanced booking requirements and no overnight Saturday stay is necessary to get a discount.

Fewer booking requirements mean fewer hassles for business travellers who are often required to leave for out-of-town meetings on short notice and who only need to be out of town for a day or two, she adds.

The company will further cater to business passengers this summer when Club C-3, a new business class, is introduced.

Saclamacis says Canada 3000 has been interested in servicing Thunder Bay for a number of years, but because of its limited fleet, the company was unable to penetrate the market. Now, with the acquisition of CanJet and Royal Airlines, the company's fleet has increased considerably, allowing Canada 3000 to enter into new markets across the country.

Saclamacis says the current flight schedule will remain in effect until October and won't be reviewed until then. If more flights are warranted, the company will consider making changes.

McFadden predicts Canada 3000 will be responsible for about a five per cent increase in airport traffic in 2001.

According to Air Transport Association of Canada statistics recently released, which compares passenger volumes from January 2001 with January 2000, traffic was up by 35 per cent - the highest increase of any airport in the country. McFadden attributes the jump to the introduction of West Jet.
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Title Annotation:Canada 3000 flights from Thunder Bay to Toronto
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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