Conquest Vacations is undertaking a major expansion of its network which will see the Canadian tour operator's fleet double in size.

The company, Canada's biggest independent tour operator, is embarking on a C$1.2 billion ($770 million) expansion over five years, with a series of new services planned to operate to Europe, the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii and South America. Funding for the expansion is being generated internally from operations.

By the end of the year, Conquest will add three Airbus A319s and one A330 to its fleet of one A319 and four A320s. By the second quarter, two Boeing 757s will be introduced, taking its fleet to 11 aircraft, all of which will be operated by its Toronto-based partner Skyservice.

"The expansion plan takes into consideration current market conditions and responds to demand for more specific destinations," says Conquest president Robbie Goldberg.

Conquest introduced domestic services last February following the bankruptcy of Canada 3000 in November 2001, and Goldberg says it is now carrying more passengers domestically than it did with Canada 3000. Overall load factors average 91% and Goldberg expects to more than double domestic capacity next summer.

Part of the expansion includes the start of transatlantic seasonal services in May using Boeing 757s from Toronto and Vancouver and possibly Calgary to Belfast, Glasgow, Lisbon, London and Manchester.

n Discount Canadian airline Jetsgo plans to double its fleet from three to six Boeing MD-83s by the year-end. The Toronto-based carrier is expanding domestic services with new flights to Timmins, Ontario; Saguenay, Quebec; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; as well as its first services to the USA.

Source: Flight International