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Over the weekend four Flair aircraft were seized mid-operations by Irish leasing company Airborne Capital Ltd. The four Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft were seized at three Canadian airports, two in Toronto, one in Edmonton and one in Waterloo. The leasing company claims that Flair had missed lease payments several times over the last few months which led to the drastic step. The impact of the aircraft seizure was significant on the airline operations, as they were then forced to cancel several flights from the impacted airports. Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones apologized to the passengers for the inconvenience, and called the seizures “unexpected and unwarranted”. He also confirmed that the issue with missing payments was resolved, and the airlines was now current on all its lease payments.
Today we learn that Flair Airlines has sued Irish leasing company Airborne Capital for $50 Million alleging breach of contract and “fraudulent misrepresentation”. The lawsuit also alleges that Airborne had found a more lucrative customer for the planes before seizing them.
The lawsuit seems like a step to restore Flair Airlines’ reputation amongst other current creditors and consumers. Only time will tell if there was a larger business conspiracy behind the seizure of four aircraft.
On a different but somewhat related news, Ottawa International airport (YOW) has ended the contract for Menzies Aviation, the company that is contracted by Flair and Sunwing for ground marshalling and baggage handling at YOW. The media release by YOW states that the it had “observed a degradation of service levels associated with ground-handling activities for Sunwing and Flair airlines”. Following written warning to the contracting company, the concerns tipped the scales towards a 30-day notice of termination of its operating licence at the airport.
Although it is now up to the airlines to find a new subcontractor, Flair confirmed that it would not impact its operations at YOW, and that they will continue to fly scheduled flights.
I feel for Flair Airlines’ leadership, they cant seem to catch a break with PR issues. The more localized concerns at YOW aside, it would be interesting to see if Flair manages uninterrupted operations over the busy March break week, and going into Spring. Looks like they are doubling down on their commitment to offer cheaper airfare to several cities in Canada – any takers?!