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Low-fare flights start in February

A new “ultra-low cost” airline that will service Kelowna announced their schedule and fare structure Wednesday afternoon from the Kelowna airport.

NewLeaf Travel Company launched it’s booking website Wednesday morning, and CEO and president, Jim Young, said the site had already crashed due to interest.

The airline is offering one-way fares as low as $89 from Kelowna to Saskatoon and Regina, $99 to Winnipeg, and $149 to Hamilton.

NewLeaf calls these fares “introductory fares” and says there will be a limited number of seats on each flight at these low prices.

“It’s a capacity-trip-controlled fare, so in other words there’s only so many seats available at that price. It actually sits in there as our sale fare so think of this like a launch sale,” Young said. “It’s on every flight that we operate between now and May 1, and there are a number of deals available on every one of our flights.”

Young said they plan to continue to offer “promotions and other introductory fares” beyond May 1.

The travel company’s first flights will begin on Feb. 12.

To keep costs low, the flights are bare bones, and extra amenities like carry-on and checked luggage, priority boarding and on-board drinks and snacks will cost extra.

“We are upfront and transparent about this pricing approach so our customers get what they need with no surprises,” Young said.

NewLeaf will be using Boeing 737s with densely configured, “slim line” seating.

The flights, including pilots, flight attendants, and maintenance crews, will be operated by Kelowna-based Flair Airlines, a charter airline that has been operating since 2003.

Flights to each city will run once or twice a week.

Michael J. Ballingall, past chair of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Board and vice president of Big White Ski Resort, said the new airline will bring in more tourism to the Okanagan.

“This will introduce more skiers from the Golden Horseshoe out in Ontario than we’ve ever seen before,” Ballingall said. “As I said to a customer last night that was talking about real estate, I said ‘Don’t think about it, just write the cheque, because it’s about to boom again.’”

Ballingall said the reservation line at Big White “rang off the hook” when NewLeaf announced their flights Wednesday morning.

One-way WestJet and Air Canada flights from Kelowna to Regina and Saskatoon currently cost at least $152, while a Kelowna to Winnipeg flight will cost a minimum of $194.

A WestJet flight from Kelowna to Hamilton costs at least $259.

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