There is never a good time to launch a new company. It is what Nolinor’s management thought when they decided to give the go-ahead of this new venture. COVID or not COVID, they will drive Canadians to the south and the sun.
Far from the paper airlines project that we can observe regularly, the OWG project was build on solid grounds.
What mean OWG?
Off we go? Optimism, rythm and Glamour? On Wise Grounds? Our wings Grow? The company neither approve nor denies suggestion about the meaning of the three letters new brand.
What is sure is that Nolinor has been thinking about this project and the branding for some time now.
The Instagram account started in October 2018 and shared the logo for the first time in June 2019. They even The twitter account was created in October 2018 and was dormant up until the grand announcement.
The domain name (owg.com) was the last piece of the marketing strategy. They only problem is that owg.com was no available. Another company had already registered it in 1998. Nolinor had to repurchase this domain, and that achieved it on December 31, 2019.
Still, nothing that OWG published in its website or social media channel define the three-letter. Could it be part of their careful strategy? We will see in the future.
What’s the plan?
Initially, Nolinor is a charter airline. Its story saw them grow as an important actor in the Canadian arctic. Their fleet of Boeing 737-200 equipped with gravel kits, Nolinor created its little market niche where it excels.
But the company does not want to stay limited to this niche. A few years ago, a brainstorming emerged ideas for the diversification of the company. One of these was what would become OWG.
A Quebcan lyric in french says “Mon pays c’est l’hiver”. We can translate this by « My country, it’s winter ». It’s not strange when you know that Canada faces a six-month cold season. Canadian that have the resources tend to travel south to cut the winter in two with a sunny break.
There is, therefore, a sizable market from Montreal and Toronto of flight to sunny countries. Amongst them, the Caribbean islands have plenty of destination for the Canadian snowbirds.
Nolinor identified a niche in this sizable market that it could serve. Other competitors include Sunwing, Air Transat and Air Canada Rouge. All of them downgraded their service to carter the part of the market that only care about the price.
While this part of the market is also the biggest, it does not mean that te remaining is so small that nobody would ever look at it. Here we are on OWG’s goal: operating a niche market without being too big to hurt the established actors.
With which aircraft?
Nolinor (and now OWG) is not known to invest in the newest aircraft. Aircraft in their fleet has seen multiple lives before joining the Montreal operations. These three Boeing 737-400 are no exception.
The first 737-400 started its career with Icelandair before serving with the charter operator Swift Air in the United States and after with the low-cost Flair Airlines in Canada.
The second one chosen by OWG started it’s flying career with the German charter operator Hapag Lloyd in 1989. After that, it spent a decade in Asia with Japan Transocean. The last decade this aircraft was operated for two years by the American charter operator SkyKing and the Spanish carrier AlbaStar.
The last one had an even more diverse history with a sad twist.
Delivered to Malaysia Airlines in 1990, it quickly moved to the Spanish charter operator Futura International. In the 2000 it joined the fleet of Virgin Express, the Low-cost airline of the Virgin group at the time and also operated for Axon airline, a short-lived greek scheduled airline. Then from 2004 to 2012, it flew for the french charter airline Axis Airways and then for three years with the Danish regional airline City Airline. Finaly it was operated by the American charter company Xtra Airways.
What is the sad twist you will ask me? Malaysia airline is the only one still flying today. We can only hope that it won’t be a bad sign for OWG.
As to why Nolinor and OWG opted for an older aircraft, they reply that it’s the most cost-effective options for them. While not as fuel-efficient than more modern aircraft, this is offset by a lower acquisition cost.
Where will OWG fly?
As from now, OWG only announced Cuba as a destination together with Caribe Sun/Hola Sun a tour operator specialised on this destination. OWG will operate from Montreal and Toronto to multiple Cuban destinations including Cayo Coco, Holguin, Santa Clara and Varadero.
For the future, the Caribbean is open to them. The Boeing 737-400 has a range of 2,400 nm which allow access to most so the sunny destination that matter for the Canadian customers.
The first flight of OWG is (as per the countdown of their website) in 35 hours 11 hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds at the time of publishing this article.