Canada's Lynx rebrands as budget carrier, plans 2022 launch

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(Reuters) - Canadian budget upstart Lynx Air said on Tuesday it will launch service in early 2022 with a former Australian airline executive as CEO and new Boeing 737 MAX jets, as leisure traffic rebounds after a COVID-19-induced slump.

Calgary-based Lynx, formerly charter Enerjet, is banking on growth as an ultra-low-cost carrier under Chief Executive Merren McArthur, a former head of budget airline Tigerair Australia.

Lynx said in a news release it has firm orders and lease agreements in place for a total of 46 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft over the next seven years. The first three 737s will arrive in early 2022 when service starts.

It is the latest budget service being introduced in Canada, one of the world's toughest markets for airlines due to high taxes, fees and the costly requirement of a negative COVID molecular test for fully vaccinated arriving travellers.

Canadian budget carrier Flair Airlines, headed by a former executive from European budget heavyweight Wizz Air, announced flights to Mexico on Tuesday. Flair also uses a MAX fleet.

While Canada's travel sector was battered during the pandemic, traffic is bouncing back as vaccinated travelers who have not seen friends and family for over a year take to the skies.

Earlier on Tuesday, Air Canada Chief Financial Officer Amos Kazzaz said he sees strong demand from leisure travelers for sun markets going into the winter holidays.

“We see sort of buildup into what we hope to be a strong summer into transatlantic markets,” Kazzaz told the Scotiabank transportation and industrials conference, citing travel to India as a "bright spot."

(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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