Zooming in on longer flights, lower fares

Zoom, the Canadian-flag carrier offering low fares across the North Atlantic to the UK and to Paris, may be going south: it has told US regulators that it wants to bring its brand of discount service to the UK-US market, which it intends to do through a UK-based subsidiary it set up in 2006. Zoom last summer sold an $11-million minority stake to the Bank of Scotland, and used that funding to set up ZoomUK at London Gatwick.

The carrier, controlled by Direct Holidays founder Hugh Boyle, wants to starts daily Boeing 767-300ER flights between Gatwick and New York John F. Kennedy, adding that city pair to its routes linking eight Canada points with Gatwick, four other UK cities (Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Belfast) and Paris. Its Transportation Department application does not offer sample fares, but its website lists fares between western Canada and Paris starting at about $260 (US) or £130 Sterling each way. This level of fares would aid Zoom in its new competitive situation: Delta flies daily between JFK and London Gatwick, while Continental, using the Newark Liberty International Airport on the other side of New York City, serves Gatwick twice daily along with Belfast, Glasgow, and Manchester. But Zoom’s marketing material clearly targets the truly price-sensitive traveller, and if the DoT clears the way, Zoom could help write the next chapter in long-haul, low-fares service.

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