Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
This story was updated on Saturday, March 11 at 11:32 p.m. EST
And you thought understaffed airports would be to blame for disrupted flights during March Break.
For some customers of Flair Airlines, this weekend’s travel plans are a bust due to seized aircraft.
Edmonton-based low-cost carrier Flair had four of its airplanes grounded on Saturday (March 11) due to a “commercial dispute” with a New-York based hedge fund and aircraft lessor, according to reports.
Several flights were cancelled as a result – just as the busy March Break travel period was ramping up.
According to the Globe and Mail, Flair’s leasing company, Airborne Capital Ltd., worked with bailiffs to issue termination notices to Flair representatives.
Reports say the move then grounded four of Flair's Boeing 737s: two at Toronto Pearson, one in Edmonton and one in Waterloo, ON.
Speaking to the Globe, Flair’s CEO, Stephen Jones, said the airline owes about US$1-million in back payments.
Jones admitted the carrier fell behind on lease payments after a “tough” winter on some routes.
The CEO said Flair is “aggrieved,” calling Saturday’s actions on the airline’s crews and communities “unwarranted.”
In a statement issued to Reuters, a Flair spokesperson said the airline is in communications with its lessor and payment has been initiated.
The source added that Flair will use additional planes to minimize the impact on passengers.
"We are truly very sorry passengers were impacted today, and are taking steps to get them on their way with minimal disruption," the spokesperson said.
Rebook at no additional cost
Flair took to its Twitter account late Saturday night to release a statement.
"Today, we experienced some service disruptions at YEG, YYZ & YKF. We are very sorry to our passengers who were impacted. We know unforeseen interruptions to travel are stressful, and we are doing everything we can to get our customers to their destinations as soon as possible," the carrier wrote.
"Customers affected by today’s events will receive an update that we have enlisted a dedicated team to support them rebook their flights with Flair, or another airline, at no additional cost."
The airline said customers can also rebook their own travel and receive a reimbursement from Flair within seven days.
"We sincerely apologize for this disruption, especially during a busy travel weekend, and we thank our customers for their patience," the airline wrote.
"Our team is dedicated to rebooking all affected customers. We guarantee we will work to get you to your destination as soon as we can."
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