US charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation (New Bedford) has launched a new brand, Connect Airlines (Bedford, MA), which will start scheduled operations in October 2021 using two leased DHC-8-Q400s to connect major business centres in the US Northeast and Midwest with Toronto City Centre, Canada, the company announced.

The service is still subject to regulatory approvals. WMA confirms it has started the process to add FAA Part 121 scheduled and non-scheduled services to its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). The carrier is already an FAA licensed Part 135 private jet charter operator that began private (FAA Part 91) operations in June 2008 out of the Boston area.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer John Thomas told ch-aviation by email that the company was making good progress with its Part 121 application. "We remain on track in this process that would allow an entry into service in October 2021."

He declined to name the leasing company at this stage but revealed the Q400s were former flybe. (BE, Exeter) aircraft. He said Connect Airlines would disclose the routes at the end of May.

Connect Airlines will provide a premium service, targeting day-tripping business travellers, making a statement of confidence in the return of short-haul business travel once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted, the company revealed in a statement.

To minimise the fixed costs of the new operation, WMA has chosen IBS Software Services as its strategic launch partner to provide the necessary technology to manage the airline on a single integrated platform. This will include a passenger-personalised website and mobile app, an end-to-end fleet and crew operations platform, passenger service and ancillary management solutions, and maintenance and engineering software.

“The last year has shown that airlines need to be lean, agile, and digital-first. Not only is this important as the industry recovers, but passengers are demanding it," comments co-founder and Chief Executive Officer John Thomas.

Thomas has been involved in the aviation industry for the past 35 years, both as a senior operating executive as Group Executive at Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int'l) and as a strategic advisor to the global aviation industry.