Former Ontario premier Mike Harris has joined the board of directors at Canada Jetlines Ltd., a fledgling discount carrier that has been on a protracted journey to raise money.
Since the fall of 2013, Vancouver-based Jetlines has raised more than $2.5-million from nearly 185 investors – well short of the estimated $50-million the company figures it will require to launch service.
But Jetlines hopes the addition of Mr. Harris as a director and the appointment of aviation veteran Stan Gadek as the firm's chairman will help boost efforts to lure new investors. Jetlines is seeking to garner $3-million from its current round of financing.
Mr. Gadek is a former chief executive officer at Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines.
Jetlines released its route map in February, showing a network of non-stop flights using Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton as hubs, while avoiding Calgary and Toronto.
"Canadians will be inspired by this airline's goal to meet the needs of underserved areas with lower fares than what people are paying today," Mr. Harris said in a statement Wednesday.
Mr. Harris, who served as Ontario premier from 1995 to 2002, said he sees a long-lasting future for Jetlines. "Their ultra-low-cost airline model will create thousands of trips that would not happen otherwise," he predicted.
In a new presentation this week to potential investors, Jetlines said it is striving to launch six months after finalizing roughly $50-million in financing. Jetlines had hoped to start flying by this summer but, given the financing delays, it appears 2016 will be earliest for any scheduled flights, if enough money is raised.
As a no-frills carrier, it would collect revenue in a variety of ways, including charging for carry-on bags.
There are two other prospective entrants seeking to operate low-cost airlines in Canada – Calgary-based Jet Naked and NewLeaf Travel Co. Inc. of Ontario.
Industry experts caution it will be difficult for even one new airline to begin flights in a country served nationally by Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., as well as regionally by an array of carriers.
Legal disputes have dogged Jet Naked and Jetlines. Three former Jet Naked executives are suing parent firm Enerjet for alleged breach of contract. Vancouver-based Inovent Capital Inc. is suing Jetlines after their planned merger fell apart earlier this year.
Inovent CEO David Brett said an affidavit in April that Jetlines owes $120,000 to Inovent in a refundable deposit. Jetlines denies any wrongdoing, saying it has acted ethically and honestly.