Competition in Canada is about to heat up as Roots Air makes its debut as a national, full-service airline. The new carrier, a joint venture between charter operator, Skyservice Airlines, and Roots Canada, a Canadian clothing chain, planned to launch flights in late March from Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.

Roots Air has been organising for nearly a year. Skyservice first announced plans for a scheduled carrier last June. Then it entered a partnership with Roots Canada, which bought a 20% stake and lent its name to the venture. Late last year the company completed a further C$35 million ($23 million) private offering. Initially, the airline aimed for a November start, but delayed that so it could complete startup plans and wait until spring when Canada's highly seasonal air traffic normally improves.

Unlike Air Canada's other challengers, which are all low-fare, single-class, airlines, Roots plans to be full service. The new entrant is offering three-class service at fares about 20% below Air Canada's normal prices. Roots Canada is outfitting aircraft interiors and providing leather uniforms for the flight attendants. Its network will focus on Canada's major cities with leased Airbus A320s and A330s.ÊLater this year it will add Montreal and Los Angeles.

This is a tough time for an a start up. Traffic is sluggish as the economy slows prompting Air Canada to shelve plans for any capacity growth this year.

Source: Airline Business