On March 11, 2023, lessor Airborne Capital Ltd recovered four aircraft handed over to Flair Airlines after Flair allegedly owed the company $1 million on unpaid leases .
In commercial aviation, $1,000,000 is typically not enough to warrant such drastic measures, as repossession of an aircraft is a labor-intensive and massive undertaking for lessors. This made people wonder if there was more to this story than “debt”; Flair.
It didn't take long for Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones to popularly explain that the seizure was the result of attempts by other carriers to weaken the airline in their own interests. Jones added that the airline had already paid off its debt to Airborne Capital Ltd. “We think that the hijacking of these aircraft was due to negotiations with another airline,” he said during a press conference on these issues.
Unfortunately for Flair, things didn't improve from that point on. Airborne says Flair was up to five months past its lease and failed to meet its contractual obligations. Numerous notices of default were sent to Flair, but the issues were not resolved, and the lessor chose the final option to return their assets.
There are 4 aircraft in the list of seized aircraft, three of which had their registration canceled in Canada (three 737 MAX 8 and one 737–800). Therefore, according to experts, they are unlikely to return to Flair Park in the near future.
The Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulation requires an airline to compensate passengers for outages. Compensation for an airline the size of Flair could be up to $500 per passenger, leading to further financial trouble if the hype around the seizure escalates.
Massive cancellations of advance tickets are sure to come after this news, and it doesn't help that the sudden loss of planes has already resulted in the cancellation of flights by about 1,900 passengers, with 420 of them waiting to be rebooked.
Despite this, Flair remains positive on social media and reassures passengers that every step is being taken to maintain schedule integrity and ensure they reach their destination, either by Flair itself or by any other airline.
While the corporate battle for four Boeing continues, passengers are offered huge discounts on new limited-time bookings.
Between March 14 and 16, passengers could save 35% on base fares using promo code spring35. The sale includes flights to Vancouver, Halifax and Calgary, as well as vacation destinations like Cancun and Palm Springs, perfect for Canada's March vacation.
However, potential buyers remain distrustful after viewing news, and some take to social media with concerns about the situation with the airline
At this stage, no new comments have been received from Flair Airlines or Airborne on this issue, however, there is no doubt that serious negotiations are underway behind the scenes to ensure that the airline can continue to operate and can resolve any operational issues it may have.
Flair's parent company, 777 Partners, touts its low-cost subsidiary as the first and only Canadian super low-cost carrier with a business model à la carte.
At this stage, 777 Partners has not released any statement regarding the situation facing Flair.