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Air Canada launches discount service Rouge

Air Canada launched its discount service Rouge on Monday, with a flight from Toronto to Kingston, Jamaica.

The new airline will also fly to Venice and Edinburgh, two European destinations that currently aren’t served by Air Canada, as well as “sun” vacations in the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

“What we want to try to do is create an onboard experience that creates that leisured, relaxed feeling,” Michael Friisdahl, president and CEO of Air Canada’s leisure group, told CityNews last year.

“There are many new destinations that we’re going to be adding,” Friisdahl said, with more routes planned for the fall.

Rouge will eventually fly to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Samana in the Dominican Republic; Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara and Holguin in Cuba; San Jose and Liberia in Costa Rica.

Later Monday, a second Rouge flight took off from Pearson to Liberia, Costa Rica, and a third flight is planned from Montreal to Athens.

The destinations are areas where demand for travel has been growing, said Ben Smith, Air Canada’s chief commercial officer.

“With the introduction today of Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada enters today’s growing leisure travel market on a truly competitive basis,” he said.

“Air Canada Rouge will leverage the strengths of Air Canada’s extensive network, operational expertise and frequent flyer reward program in order to offer Canadians great value for their vacation travel.”

The pilots will be existing Air Canada pilots who will transfer to the new fleet that will cater to the leisure market.

With files from The Canadian Press