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Go West, Toronto: Hamilton and Waterloo airports picking up biz with Canada Jetlines and other carriers

Go west, young man is a famous quote about the settling of the American West, a call for folks in the crowded Eastern United States to pack up for California and other, less crowded areas to the west.

It could well be the slogan for air transportation in the crowded southern Ontario market.

There’s been talk for years of building a Toronto Pearson relief airport in Pickering. That could still happen. But, in the meantime, airline folks are answering the call to avoid Pearson congestion (and high fees) by inducing folks to fly out of Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo, both an hour or so west of the Greater Toronto Area.

Hamilton’s airport can handle a great deal of traffic but has been labelled as something of a white elephant the past decade or so. That’s starting to change as more of Canada’s upstart low-cost airlines greedily eye the southern Ontario market, where a gazillion folks live and where quite a few people have the money it takes to fly to Vancouver to see Aunt Maude or to flee to Jamaica and points south in winter.

Canada Jetlines on Monday became the latest airline to elbow up to the Hamilton Airport bar. Executives told a Toronto news conference that they’ll start flying June 1, 2018 and hope to use Hamilton and Waterloo as their southern Ontario hubs. They’ve got a deal with Hamilton, they said, and are working on one with Waterloo.

Jetlines, as they like to call themselves, is planning fares for as little as $100 or less (plus fees for bags and snacks and such, which is low ultra-low-cost carriers make a profit) and will fly to points such as Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Halifax.

“We think the Toronto area is absolutely unique in its population density and, more importantly, its lack of competition when it comes to air fares,” Jetlines CEO Stan Gadek is quoted as saying in today’s Globe and Mail.

Gadek said that by August of next year they hope to add Orlando, Las Vegas and St. John’s and that by the end of year two they should be flying to other cities in Florida and to Mexico.

Flair Airlines, which said yesterday it will add Toronto, Vancouver and Kelowna to its network, already flies out of Hamilton, as well as Abbotsford, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Halifax.

WestJet had hoped to launch its ultra-low-cost model later this year but recently said they’ll have to wait until the middle of 2018; about the same time Jetlines plans to get off the ground.

WestJet will almost certainly take advantage of Hamilton Airport’s cheaper fees when their new division (there’s no name yet) launches next year. The airline already flies out of Hamilton.

In fact, a CBC report I spotted this morning shows that traffic at Hamilton International grew by 127% in the first six months of this year, compared to 2016. Overall traffic for the first half of 2017 was listed at nearly 270,00.

The CBC story quoted airport officials as saying they could reach the 500,000 passenger level by the end of this year, which means not only more options for fliers but also more jobs in Hamilton, which is getting more and more attention as a Toronto alternative owing to its relatively cheap housing and increasingly good food and shopping scene.

WestJet recently announced it will no longer fly from Waterloo to Orlando. But given what’s happening with Jetlines and other low-cost carriers, I think the future of the Waterloo Airport is pretty bright.

Look west, Toronto fliers. Look west.

TRAVELZOO HELPING SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK

This is nice to see. Until October 18, Travelzoo Canada will offer exclusive dining opportunities at five of Toronto’s best restaurants with a portion of each dinner package sold being donated to Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization.
 
Donations received by Second Harvest through its partnership with Travelzoo will help support the operation, which has 10 trucks on the road every day rescuing good, healthy food and delivering it to people who need it. A minimum of $5,000 will be donated to Second Harvest—enough to rescue and deliver 10,000 meals.

“We have a membership that loves to go out and experience new things,” says Lara Barlow, General Manager of Travelzoo Canada. “Partnering with Second Harvest is a way for us to support this great charity while introducing our members to some of the top restaurants in Toronto.”
 
Through Travelzoo, members can purchase exclusive multi-course meals that have been created specifically for the “Second Harvest x Travelzoo” program at five upscale Toronto restaurants: Aria Ristorante, Fabbrica, Noce, The Fifth & Terrace and Montgomery’s Restaurant. Dinner for two will cost between $109 and $119. 
 
“We are thrilled to begin working with Travelzoo this year and excited to grow the partnership with this amazing deal,” says Debra Lawson, Executive Director of Second Harvest. “These five restaurants are loyal, longtime loyal supporters of Second Harvest and are among the best our city has to offer. We hope Travelzoo members take advantage of this incredible chance to enjoy good food and give back.”
 
In operation since 1985, Second Harvest receives donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, fresh and frozen meat and dairy products from more than 400 Toronto eateries, taking food that would otherwise go to waste and delivering it to more than 225 social service agencies across the city. It rescues and delivers enough food to provide 25,000 meals each day.
 
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve done paid work with Travelzoo in the past and continue to write for them. They didn’t ask me to post this but I think what they’re doing is very nice.

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