Canada next for Cheapflights expansion

David Soskin and Hugo Burge have been ploughing the conference circuit in recent months ahead of what looks to be a continuation of a busy and landmark 2006 for Cheapflights.

The pair have been supporting their young protégés, the founders of, at the PhoCusWright conference at ITB Berlin and the Red Herring event in Cannes.

But closer to home, not content to watch idly on the sidelines as an increasingly busy market continues its strong growth, Cheapflights will push its first major extension of the brand for four years when it launches a dedicated operation in Canada in the next three months.

But while a Canadian version of Cheapflights might not set UK pulses racing in terms of its profile, users there will be the first to experience what is being called a “test bed” for the company’s ambitious plans for the rest of this year and beyond.

The new site will be run on a massively improved back-end system currently being developed by chief technology officer Chris Martin, who joined Cheapflights from in January.

A redesign of the Cheapflights site is likely to be in place by the end of 2007.

Burge, who as chairman and head of international for the company spearheaded the launch of in the US, says: “Canada is a natural market for us because of our significant presence in the US market with existing Canadian traffic and business partners.

“In fact, many of our partners were asking us to launch in Canada because there are so few options for them to generate extra sales there.”

Away from the persistent – and, it seems for Soskin and Burge, increasingly irritating – speculation about the future of the company, launches in other markets are also on the horizon.

Germany is most likely to be the first recipient of a site in Europe – “by the end of the year”, Burge says – and Soskin claims the company can have a presence in every major travel market within five years.

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