PLANE POACHING?

Flair Reassures Pax, Workers Following Aircraft Seizure; Says Competitors Attempting to Take Over Leases

Stephen Jones, President and CEO at Flair Airlines
Stephen Jones, President and CEO at Flair Airlines

Flair Airline’s CEO spoke to media Monday, 13MAR, two days after, as Open Jaw reported, four of its aircraft were seized at the outset of the March Break exodus, causing nearly 2000 pax to miss their flights.

During the virtual media conference, Stephen Jones announced the airline was “here to say,” adding that, “People can book new travel with confidence.”

Furthermore, in an email obtained by the Globe & Mail, he reassured the ULCC’s employees, saying, “We will work through this,” calling the company, “100 per cent viable.”

The company confirmed the seizure by its lessor was due to non-payment of its leases. However, on Saturday, when the incident occurred, a Flair statement called out the unheard-of nature of the move.

“The airline is aggrieved by this unprecedented action,” said the airline's statement. “Flair Airlines has been involved in ongoing communications with the lessor and payment has been initiated, as they have been previously done.”

In his virtual media conference, Jones called the moves by the lessor’s investors “draconian” and “aggressive.”

In a note of aviation industry intrigue, Jones also appeared to blame another Canadian airline for the situation.

The Globe reports that last month, lessors were “offering a total of 11 Flair aircraft for lease to other airlines,” adding that “seven of those aircraft were pulled from the market because Flair paid the amounts owing.”  It was reportedly the remaining four that were seized on the weekend.

In Monday’s news conference, Jones apparently accused one - unnamed - Canadian airline of attempting to poach the aircraft leases from Flair.

“We do believe that there were negotiations going on behind the scenes between one of the majors and the lessor to hurt Flair by them offering probably above-market rates for the aircraft we’ve been leasing.”

And he explained why he thought Flair was targeted. “We’ve come in and upset the cozy duopoly, and as a consequence people want us out of business.”

According to Global News, Air Canada denies it has approached or been approached by Flair’s lessors, and WestJet did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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