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NewLeaf: 'Ultra-low-cost' airline to launch in Winnipeg February 12

The 'ultra-low-cost' airline will be based in Winnipeg, Hamilton and Kelowna.

NewLeaf CEO Jim Young speaks to media on Wednesday at the James A. Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg.

Michelle Bailey/For Metro

NewLeaf CEO Jim Young speaks to media on Wednesday at the James A. Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg.

Winnipeggers have another option in the highly competitive market of air travel to choose from if they are looking to uncover cheap fares and direct flights.

NewLeaf Travel Company unveiled its New Years baby yesterday at the James Richardson International Airport. The plan, according to NewLeaf President and CEO Jim Young, is to take flight on February 12, offering service to Halifax, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Kelowna and Abbotsford.

Initial fares will range from $89 to $149.

“Most of our main routes feature non-stop flights that aren’t currently offered,” said Young. “The ultra-low-cost business model we’re using has proven successful around the world, and we are excited to bring it to Canada.”

Headquartered in Winnipeg, NewLeaf’s service will initially take off using two planes operated by Canadian-based Flair Airlines. Young said the goal is to increase the number of Boeing 737-400 passenger jets in the air by 13 over the next three years.

Barry Rempel, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority welcomes the addition of NewLeaf , saying this will have spin off effects for the airport and the community.

“I’ve watched what has happened in other cities where these companies have set up shop,” said Rempel, “and generally there are about 14 jobs created per aircraft. Also, they contract work to local service providers such as HR firms, ad firms, etc. It’s good news all around.”

Phillip Houde, General Manager and Owner of River East Travel in Winnipeg, said while news of an ultra-low cost air carrier is music to travelers ears, consumers should ensure they know what they are signing up for when they book with NewLeaf.

“I give full credit to them for their entrepreneurial spirit and I do hope they can make it work, especially seeing how other low-cost airlines have come and gone,” Houde said. “Travelers need to recognize they will pay a fee for every thing, and that includes things such as needing them to print your boarding pass at the airport.”

Young did point out that everything beyond the fee you paid for your “seat and seatbelt” is considered “a la cart.” Priority boarding, snacks, drinks, carry-on and checked baggage is all extra. One carry one bag is allowed for free if you can fit in under the seat in front of you. He said that’s the key to keeping the fares low.

Young said another way of keeping costs down is that consumers will have to book with NewLeaf directly. Bookings can’t be made on any third party websites or even through travel agents.

For those who had hoped that NewLeaf was going to offer low cost service to southern destinations such as Orlando and Phoenix, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Many Winnipeggers currently cross the border to fly out of Grand Forks or Fargo with low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines.

“We’re not quite at that point yet, but it is still something we are looking at offering down the road,” said Young.

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