Despite woes, Flair Airlines says its ready to carry on

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Mar 16, 23

2 min read

Flair Airlines vows it will carry on, including its flights from Waterloo Region, despite having four of its 22 planes seized last weekend by the leasing company.

CEO Stephen Jones said Flair is working to get the airplanes back.

“We are still negotiating with the client to get the aircraft back, but on the assumption that we are unable to come to a conclusion with those guys we need to try and find new capacity at short notice. And that’s quite difficult,” he said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

The seizure included two planes in Toronto, and one each in Edmonton and the Region of Waterloo International Airport. This led to the cancellation of four flights from YKF impacting a total of 628 passengers. Flair returned to its full schedule of flights on Sunday using spare planes it had prepared for use this summer.

“Our customers were, rightfully so, very upset about the travel plans being disrupted,” Jones said.

Originally customers were told that their flights were disrupted due to safety issues, something that Jones admitted was a mistake.

“The guys that do the coding I don’t think have a code for unexpected and, in our view, improper seizure of the aircraft. That was a mistake and I take responsibility for that. It clearly wasn’t a safety-related issue. It was an issue that was within our control since we’ve dealt with it on that basis, so I apologize for that initial characterization.”

Jones said the airline received little notice of the seizures.

“We got sent termination notices in the middle of the night, and at the same time again, middle of the night, these people hired by the hedge funds came and, inappropriately I think, made it onto the tarmac and tried to take control of the aircraft. Pilots [were] sitting in the aircraft and guys coming in pretending to be maintenance contractors coming in and trying to seize the records. It was absolutely unexpected from our perspective.”

Jones claimed that seizure involved the improper use of airport identification to gain access to the tarmac, however he did not provide evidence to back up those claims.

“It was just very underhanded and sort of middle-of-the-night skullduggery, if you like.”

The aircraft in question were leased by Airborne Capital Inc., which said in a statement reported by the Canadian Press that the lease was cancelled “following a five-month long period during which Flair was regularly in default by failing to meet its payments when due, with payment arrears reaching millions of dollars.”

“Terminating an aircraft lease is always a last resort, and such a decision is never taken lightly. In this case, following numerous notices to Flair, it again failed to make payments when due and Airborne took steps to terminate the leasing of the aircraft,” Airborne Capital said.

Given that much of the ongoing $375 million expansion at YKF is being done to accommodate Flair, Jones reiterated the airline’s commitment to the airport and vowed to increase the completion of scheduled flights.

“The number of flights that we actually fly relative to those that are scheduled needs to improve. We are focused at the moment in particular on our crew resources. I know that there was a flight cancellation today and I’m upset to hear about that. That was due to a crew member being sick and it not being able to be covered in time. So we are focused on the cancellations that are related to things that are inside our control,” he said.

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