Simon Calder: The cost of a Canadian connection

The man who pays his way

Go and lie down in a darkened room until you feel better: that is my standard response when, as happens from time to time, I am asked for advice on starting an airline. Flying people from A to B usually results in fortunes, large and small, being squandered rather than made.

If you happen to have access to a medium-sized, mid-haul aircraft this summer, though, I will gladly tell you where to put it: on the shortest – and this year probably the most profitable – transatlantic route.

The destination is St John's, an exquisite little city that provides the most colourful gateway to the barely tamed wilderness of Newfoundland – a province out of kilter with the rest of the Canada. The island joined the nation only in 1949, and remains defiantly half-an-hour adrift from its neighbours.

Try to book a non-stop flight from Heathrow to St John's for the summer and the least you will pay is £684 return. On Saturdays in August, you will barely get any change out of £1,000 to reach the main airport in Newfoundland. And all this for a total there-and-back journey time of under 11 hours aboard a narrow-bodied Airbus A319. This is the same duration, and plane, that easyJet shuttles between Manchester and Sharm El Sheikh – peak fare, £400 return. Perhaps Britain's original no-frills airline should point its planes west, not east.

As you will read on the following three pages, the appeal of America is boundless. But Canada is closer and, at least in terms of formalities, far friendlier. That is why I started planning a summer trip there – but soon deleted Newfoundland from the itinerary when I discovered how high the fares are. Why does Air Canada face no competition on the route to St John's? That's the question I put to Kathryn Munro, marketing director of Canadian Affair.

If anyone was going to give Canada's flag-carrier a run for its money, it would be this organisation, which runs a wide range of UK-Canada flights. But not, at least in the current climate, to St John's: "We are 100 per cent leisure, and this is a route that would be profitable for only five weeks each summer," she told me. "Air Canada is a network carrier, with business traffic, and can make the route work with connecting passengers through the Star Alliance." (I checked; starting your August journey to St John's in Edinburgh will cost you an extra £200.)

Right, so let's look at another maritime Canada province that does benefit from flight competition from the UK: Nova Scotia, with an equally impressive range of natural and man-made attractions. An August a return flight from Heathrow to Halifax could cost you £950 on Air Canada. With Canadian Affair from Gatwick, that falls by £300 – the company has just put bigger planes on the route, creating lots more seats to fill. But there's a catch: you can fly on any day you like as long as it's Thursday.

For those constrained to flying at weekends, there is an alternative – in the shape of Icelandair. The summer Saturday fare from Heathrow to Halifax is a mere £624 return. Agreed, the plane change in Reykjavik is a bit of a palaver, but on the way home you can opt to extend the stopover to 11 hours – bestowing a bonus summer's day, from 5am to 4pm, on which to explore Iceland's capital. Or you could wallow in the Blue Lagoon, 15 minutes from the airport, and dream of starting an airline.

Fair fares for low-cost flying

Airlines could rarely be accused of making too much money, but if you feel that the summer profit margins look too high, take advantage of the low-season bargains on Britain’s no-frills airlines.This week I bought a ticket on Ryanair from Stansted to the fine German city of Bremen, paying £20 return for flights shortly before Easter; £12 of that goes straight to the Chancellor (ours, not Germany’s) in Air Passenger Duty. But the boss of Spain’s leading low-cost airline, Alex Cruz of Vueling, says the days of selling below cost are numbered:“

For years we have been told that in order to be successful in this place you need to be rude to passengers. You need to have very low costs, very low fares - that’s the only way out. We don’t believe in that. Vueling is very well placed to be successful and it’s enjoying high margins.”

Vueling remains the only low-cost airline from Heathrow. For the rest of Senor Cruz’s thoughts, see independent.co.uk/alexcruz.

Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test