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Saturday,  April 20, 2024 10:28 PM 

"I’ve enjoyed it tremendously": Charles McKee to conclude services at Jetlines

"I’ve enjoyed it tremendously": Charles McKee to conclude services at Jetlines
Charles McKee. (File photo)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The person who has led Canada Jetlines’ commercial activities over the past year is moving on to other projects, PAX has learned.

Charles McKee, who was hired as a consultant by the leisure airline in June of 2023 to assist with an executive transition, following the exit of Duncan Bureau (the airline’s former chief commercial officer), will conclude his services in March when his contract ends. 

Speaking with PAX over the phone on Wednesday (Feb. 21), McKee described his departure as a “natural end” that is “drama free,” clarifying that he was brought on as a consultant to Jetlines, as opposed to joining the company as an employee.

“I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and have nothing but the utmost respect for [CEO] Eddy Doyle and the team,” McKee said.

McKee, who operates his own consulting firm, Markey International, works with a number of airline and technology clients, providing various advisory services.

His prior work has included chief commercial officer roles at Radisson Hotel Group Americas and; chief marketing roles at Delta Hotels & Resorts, Malaysia Airlines, and Air Canada; and senior leadership roles at the Canadian Tourism Commission and Virgin Atlantic Airways. 

McKee has worked in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York and London, before moving to Canada two decades ago. 

Canada Jetlines is now one of many airlines in McKee’s consulting portfolio, which includes carriers both in Canada and Europe.

As a consultant, his role is to help companies through transitions, and when they have “big, meaty growth objectives,” McKee explained.

Over the past nine months, McKee, who commenced work at Jetlines on June 28, 2023, led the still-new leisure carrier through the expansion of its destinations (which now includes Montego Bay, Orlando and Halifax) and fleet of Airbus aircraft.

He also assisted with the launch of Jetlines Vacations, a bonded tour operator that offers packaged deals, including airfare, hotel accommodations and transfers.

During his tenure, the leadership team at Jetlines did a lot of “soul searching” to determine what kind of airline it wanted to be, McKee said.  

“We believe, rightly, that there is an opportunity in Canada for a new, highly-focus, quality leisure carrier,” McKee said.

The growth Jetlines has seen over the past year is a strong indication of where the company is going, he said.

“It will continue to focus on people’s bucket lists, as a sun and leisure-based carrier,” he said. “It’s a different product for the leisure space. I think it stands head and shoulders above [the competition].”

One aspect of Jetlines that McKee particularly admires is its role as a multi-channel distribution company, which includes a relationship with travel advisors.

“That will be key to its success going forward,” he said.

Julie Rempel, director of marketing at Canada Jetlines, said McKee has been “instrumental” in helping the airline expand its network as he brought in a “wealth of knowledge and contacts from across the globe.”

“That has helped accelerate our growth,” Rempel told PAX on Wednesday.

It’s still to be determined if a new person will be hired, either as a consultant or as an employee, to fill McKee’s role, Rempel said, noting how it’s up to the company's board to select a new officer.

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