Air Canada took over Toronto’s Dundas Square Tuesday to unveil Rouge, its new discount air carrier set to start flying in July 2013.
Rouge is positioned as Air Canada’s “stylishly affordable new leisure airline,” and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada.
Ben Smith, chief commercial officer at Air Canada, said Rouge has “the right cost-structure” to compete with other discount airlines, and is able to deliver “a much more competitive offering for the leisure market than any of the other operators out there,” given Air Canada’s dominant role in the travel world.
He noted that Air Canada has been flying to all Rouge destinations for many years, but that some flight paths are being transferred to the more affordable airline.
As of today, passengers can book Rouge flights to Europe and the Caribbean, with direct flights offered from Toronto to Edinburgh and Venice, and from Montreal to Athens. Direct flights are also available from Toronto to several destinations in Cuba, Jamaica, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
A release from Air Canada said the name Rouge is a nod to Canada’s second official language, and that it embodies “reliability, trustworthiness, top safety standards and a name and iconic brand that represents Canada.” (An earlier Facebook contest invited consumers to offer suggestions for the airline’s new name.)
To celebrate the launch, Air Canada (with help from Narrative PR), set up a giant red suitcase in Toronto’s Dundas Square and handed out 10,000 discount code coupons, each offering 10% to 99% off the cost of an upcoming airfare.
Amanda Alvaro, managing director of Narrative PR, said that the hub of this campaign will be on social networks, rather than a standalone website (all Rouge reservations will go through Air Canada’s main site).
“It’s one of the first airlines that’s been launched in the social space,” said Alvaro. “Gone are the days when you need your own unique website. All of the communication for this brand is going to happen on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and eventually on Pinterest.”
Alvaro added that Rouge’s branding will continue to emphasize the “Go More” tagline. “We wanted to make sure that that was really portrayed in the activation,” she said. “People have come to know and trust the Air Canada brand. Having [Rouge] connected to a brand that has such a strong reputation in Canada will allow Canadians to feel comfortable when they’re booking.”
Creative agency Marketel is handling the advertising for Rouge, as it does for the main Air Canada brand.