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Delayed Department of Transport decision delays Connect Airlines

The company behind the Massachusetts-based company start Connect Airlines is pushing the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a show cause order. The order is needed before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows Connect Airlines to begin testing and complete its certification process.

Connect Airlines wants to operate scheduled passenger flights between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and cities in the Midwest and Northeast United States using DeHavilland Q-400 aircraft. The company behind Connect Airlines is Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA), a long-established air charter and aircraft management company. WMA’s CEO is John Thomas, a shapely Wagga boy who has worked in aviation since the 1970s, including in senior positions for some major airlines.

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Connect Airlines should not be confused with Connect Airways – an ill-fated and short-lived consortium concocted by Virgin Atlantic and Irish wet-leasing specialist Stobart Air to buy British regional airline Flybe.

Connect Airlines plans to fly Dash 8-400s between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and several US airports. Photo: Connect Airlines

Connect Airlines wants a decision from the Ministry of Transport

Last year, WMA went public with its plans to launch Connect Airlines, sparking renewed interest. Since then, in addition to weathering COVID, the company has gone through regulatory steps to fly Connect Airlines. But now it seems their patience with the bureaucracy is running out a bit.

In an April 20 letter to Annie Petsonk, principal assistant assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at DOT, Connect Airlines legal counsel J. Parker Erkmann called for faster decision-making from DC.

The time has come for the Ministry to make its decision,“reads his letter.”DOT’s issuance of a show cause order approving the WMA’s Economic Authority on an interim basis is required before the FAA allows Connect to begin its testing and complete the certification process, and the FAA and its certification team are , and have been for at least the past two weeks ready to begin these trials.”

Connect Airlines would like a decision and response from the Department of Transport as soon as possible. Photo: Connect Airlines

Connect Airlines has progressed in the certification process

The letter notes that the WMA has made significant progress toward obtaining its certification, including nearly completing the FAA Part 121 certification process. Mr. Erkmann notes that the WMA has responded to concerns previously raised by the Air Line Pilots Association, the Allied Pilots Association and the Southwest Pilots Association, by pledging to recruit only US-based pilots for its services. regulars and to base these pilots in the United States. Accordingly, these pilot associations withdrew their objections.


“After an extensive public comment period, WMA has answered all outstanding questions and meets certification standards,” WMA’s legal counsel writes. “WMA is ready to get to work.”

As North American air travel rebounds, Connect Airlines sees more opportunity than ever for its business model. They say this is especially the case with major US airlines and their regional partners cutting service to smaller markets and essential air routes. WMA notes that many of their planned routes between Billy Bishop Airport and US hub airports will open up a current monopoly situation. Passing it off as a plus for larger airlines, WMA says Connect Airlines will provide convenient food services at these major airports for major carriers.

“Connect’s building-scale operating model at major U.S. hub airports will allow Connect to cost-effectively add service to smaller regional airports and potentially even critical air services markets that have recently lost ground. service from these major hubs, such as Eau Claire, Wisconsin or Decatur, Illinois from Chicago O’Hare,added Mr. Erkmann. “However, none of these benefits can be obtained unless the Department acts quickly to grant WMA’s claims. The Department should do so without further delay.”