Waltzing Matilda Aviation to launch Connect Airlines with scheduled passenger services to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
John Thomas, CEO Waltzing Matilda Aviation, talks to anna.aero
Massachusetts-based charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation plans to start scheduled passenger services in October 2021 with the launch of Connect Airlines. Subject to regulatory approvals, the new airline will connect Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport with business centres in the US Northeast and Midwest using two Q400s.
This ambitious expansion is being led by John Thomas, CEO and co-founder of Waltzing Matilda Aviation, and formerly Group Executive of Virgin Australia Airlines and Managing Director of global airline practice LEK Consulting.
“The charter market has stayed very resilient throughout the past 12 months,” he begins. “As vaccinations take place, more and more American travellers want to travel again, especially on short-haul flights. We hope to ride the wave of this rebound.”
Thomas explains that the route development strategy for Connect Airlines is based on Billy Bishop being a much more convenient airport for point-to-point travellers to Toronto than Pearson, which is 20km from downtown Toronto. “As such, we want to build out the points that are served from Billy Bishop and complement the destinations that Porter Airlines was serving prior to COVID-19,” he says. “We believe there will be a general resurgence in the use of turboprop aircraft, especially on routes of less than 400 miles, and US transborder services from Billy Bishop fit that model. It is also a higher yielding market that we believe will appreciate our business model/offering.”
While predominantly targeting US business travellers doing day trips to Toronto, Thomas also sees potential in catering to the leisure market. “We have undertaken our own independent assessment of the most attractive routes but, like with all airports, will look to Billy Bishop to help us promote these new services.”
Connect Airlines “focused on the most lucrative transborder routes from Billy Bishop”
The next step is obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “We started the process in December 2020 and remain on track, working closely with our FAA Qualified Certification Consultant and pre-eminent aviation technical services and advisory firm Oliver Wyman CAVOK, as well as our FAA Certification team.”
Looking ahead, Thomas’ priorities for Waltzing Matilda Aviation are the successful launch of services to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and further building its jet charter services in the Northeast US. “Our goal is to stay focused on the most lucrative transborder routes from Billy Bishop, which we believe will allow us to grow to 7-10 aircraft over time.”