Air Canada’s new low-cost airline has cheaper fares, more crowded seating and lower-paid staff
Air Canada has finally made good on its promise to open a discount airline, commencing ticket sales for its new low-cost brand, Rouge, yesterday. (The name, chosen through an online contest, isn’t terrible, though someone should probably tell the airline that “rouge” does not, in fact, mean “go.”) Pearson Airport will serve as Rouge’s hub come July, when the carrier begins flying to Edinburgh, Venice, Athens, Cuba, Costa Rica, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic between one and five times per week, but two flights a week will also depart for Athens from Montreal. To keep costs low, Rouge squeezes 57 more seats into its Boeing 767s and 22 extra seats into its Airbus A319s, charges passengers for movies, TV and music, and gives staff lower wages and fewer benefits. That translates into cheaper fares (at least a few hundred dollars less on some flights)—though nothing on the level of the bargain-basement seat sales offered by European budget carriers. Meanwhile, Porter Airlines also picked yesterday to launch Porter Escapes, its new vacation packages service, which allows flyers to book hotels, city passes and other tourist add-ons. We’re sure the timing is purely coincidental.