Flair Airlines

Flair Airlines CEO shifts blame for seized planes while passengers left scrambling

Low-cost carrier Flair Airlines had four of its planes seized over the weekend reportedly due to falling behind on lease payments, with Flair's CEO suggesting that collusion between another major Canadian airline and a U.S. hedge fund is to blame.

Calling the move "extreme and unusual," Flair says it is “aggrieved by this unprecedented action.” The four aircraft were seized from airports in Toronto, Edmonton, and Waterloo, affecting the travel plans of nearly 1,900 customers right at the start of March break.

Stephen Jones, CEO of Flair Airlines, admitted the company was several days behind on a $1 million lease payment to Airborne Capital but was shocked to learn the hedge fund seized the planes.

Jones suspects Airborne Capital worked with one of Canada's major airlines to undermine Flair.

At a news conference on Monday, he said “We have come in and upset the cozy duopoly, and as a consequence people want us out of business.”

“We do believe there were negotiations going on behind the scenes between one of the majors and the lessor to, you know, hurt Flair by offering above-market rates for the aircraft we have been leasing.”

Jones insists there is more to the story than Flair not paying its bills on time, but would not "name names or cite evidence."

Of the 1,900 passengers impacted by the flight cancellations, 420 were able to re-book within 72 hours. The airline says the rest were offered flights at a later date or a full refund.

Flair was able to return to its full flight schedule by Sunday after bringing in three backup aircrafts, but it seems that some travellers on social media are less than pleased with Flair's handling of the situation and lack confidence for future bookings.

Twitter user Amanda Anems-Brandt tweeted that her parents waiting in Waterloo for their flight back to Vancouver didn't receive any updates, saying they will never book with Flair again.

Instagram user fedsmama writes under Flair's latest post, "Thank you for cancelling my daughters flight because you had your planes repossessed and then send an email stating the revised flight information and a hotel was being provided. Only to find out, zero hotel or accommodations. Shame on you flairairlines."

On the other hand, Flair Airlines seems confident they will recover from the seizure. "Flair will fly and we will thrive. We will continue to deliver the lowest fares on offer to Canadians," they tweeted.

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