Canada's Flair Airlines (F8, Kelowna) has been tentatively granted a foreign air carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Although it is awaiting a final order, with an exemption in hand, Flair Airlines will be able to operate scheduled and charter flights to the United States provided it can secure US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval as well.

The airline had submitted the application on July 28.

Formerly an ACMI/charter operator exclusively, Flair Airlines acquired virtual budget carrier NewLeaf (F8, Winnipeg Int'l) earlier this year and announced it will expand as a scheduled low-fare carrier using Edmonton Int'l as its main transfer hub.

Flair Airlines, which currently operates a fleet of five B737-400s between Edmonton, Abbotsford, Hamilton, ON and Winnipeg Int'l on a scheduled basis as well as on charter services, intends to grow significantly over the next years.

“By April 2018 Flair Airlines will be servicing the Canadian ULCC market in earnest with a total of seven B737-400s throughout our existing and future route network“, said Chris Lapointe, VP, Commercial Operations for Flair Airlines, quoted by Travelweek. “This expansion of both capacity and our route structure may require us to add larger aircraft to our fleet, such as the B737-800s as they have 189 seats.”

So far the airline has not announced destinations in the United States.

Flair Airlines will compete with Jetlines (CJL, Vancouver Int'l) and WestJet's subsidiary Swoop (WO, Hamilton, ON) for a share of the nascent Canadian ultra low-cost market. Both airlines are tentatively scheduled to commence operations in summer 2018.