Vancouver low-cost airline Canada Jetlines closes deal to go public

Carrier’s first flights from Vancouver likely to be to Hamilton and Prince George

Canada Jetlines has been planning to launch for several years | Canada Jetlines

Vancouver-based upstart airline Canada Jetlines has closed a transaction to be taken over by Jet Metal Corp. and to trade on the TSX-Venture Exchange starting March 7.

It remains unclear, however, when the ultra-low-cost carrier, which plans to charge fares that are an average of 40% to 50% less than Air Canada and WestJet, will get off the ground.

“We’ll fly when we’re ready,” Jetlines executive chairman Mark Morabito told Business in Vancouver on March 2.

“We’re not going to promise we’ll be flying by ‘X’ date. There’s a very detailed process that’s involved in getting an airline flying and we’re going to follow it step by step.”

He said that Jetlines is in the process of completing its air-operator certificate and that he expects to have that certificate by the end of the summer.

The airline also needs some additional capital and it expects to get that money from offshore investors.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau last year approved an exemption so Jetlines could seek foreign investment that gave foreigners more than what was previously a maximum of a 25% voting interest. The threshold that Garneau approved means that foreigners can have a 49% voting interest in the airline.

Jetlines' initial flights from Vancouver could be to cities such as Hamilton, Ontario and Prince George, B.C., Morabito said. The next set of routes out of Vancouver would then be places such as Reno, Nevada or Anchorage, Alaska.

The airline will trade under the ticker symbol JET.

Calgary, which is where WestJet Airlines Ltd. is based, is not expected to be on Jetlines’ route map.

Jetlines originally proposed in early 2014 to go public via a reverse takeover with Inovent Capital Inc. (TSX-V: IVQ.P) but then abruptly cancelled plans to link with Inovent, saying that it was exploring other financing opportunities.

At that time it also placed an order, worth US$438 million, for five of Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX aircraft, which are to be delivered in 2021. 

Morabito said that when Jetlines starts flying, it will use two leased planes. The Boeing planes that it ordered years ago are still set to be delivered and Morabito said that he expects Jetlines to expand that order.

Jetlines originally planned to launch in mid-2015 using leased planes.

gkorstrom@biv.com 

@GlenKorstrom