Lynx Air is shutting down. What to do if you have travel booked

Click to play video: 'Lynx Air ceasing operations'
Lynx Air ceasing operations
WATCH - Lynx Air ceasing operations – Feb 23, 2024

Canadians booked with Lynx Air find themselves in limbo Friday after the ultra-low-cost-carrier announced it is going out of business.

Lynx Air said Thursday it has sought and obtained an initial order for creditor protection after facing “significant headwinds” in the past year.

The Calgary-based airline said it will continue to operate its scheduled flights until 12:01 a.m. MT on Monday, after which Lynx Air operations will cease.

Lynx said that despite growing its fleet and doubling its passenger volume over the last two years, it has faced rising operating costs, high fuel prices, exchange rates, increasing airport charges and a difficult economic and regulatory environment.

Click to play video: 'Lynx Air files for creditor protection, will cease operations'
Lynx Air files for creditor protection, will cease operations

Lynx Air added it tried to explore a sale or merger, but ultimately the challenges facing the company’s business “have become too significant to overcome.” The airline employs 160 pilots and flight crew members, according to the Air Line Pilots Association union.

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“This is a difficult day for everyone at Lynx Air and we recognize it’s an exceptionally difficult day for our loyal customers,” a spokesperson for Lynx said in a statement to Global News Thursday.

The company added that efforts are being made to assist passengers affected by the move, with those who have existing bookings advised to contact their credit card company to secure refunds for pre-booked travel.

What should Lynx customers do?

Lynx, as well as the Canadian Transportation Authority (CTA), have published advice for customers on navigating the upcoming closure.

According to Lynx, anyone who has a flight cancelled this weekend will be notified by email. If their flight is after Feb. 26, they can contact their credit card company for a refund. Lynx said its contact centre will not be available to assist with refunds.

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Travel and flight vouchers will no longer be accepted once Lynx ceases operations, the airline added.

Click to play video: 'Canada aims to toughen air passenger bill of rights'
Canada aims to toughen air passenger bill of rights

However, Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday he expects Lynx Air to get stranded passengers back home as soon as possible, and to provide refunds if fares cannot be honoured.

He added his office is in contact with other airlines to see how they can help, “to ensure that passengers are put first.”

The CTA said on Thursday stranded passengers, or those with tickets for future travel with Lynx, should contact their travel agents or providers for alternate travel arrangements. However, those passengers may have to make those arrangements on their own, it added.

“Passengers who paid for their tickets by credit card should contact their credit card company to see what they are eligible for,” the CTA said.

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“If travel insurance was purchased, passengers should contact the insurance company to see if their coverage includes such circumstances.”

Click to play video: 'Consumer Matters: How air passenger rights changes will impact travellers'
Consumer Matters: How air passenger rights changes will impact travellers

If Lynx customers purchased their travel arrangements from a travel agent that is registered in Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia, they may be eligible for a refund from the provincial authorities responsible for travel, the CTA added.

WestJet and fellow ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) Flair Airlines are helping to mitigate some of the issues for Lynx travellers.

WestJet said Thursday it will offer discounted fares for stranded domestic travellers, and capped fares for Canadian repatriation flights on non-stop WestJet routes previously served by Lynx.

Flair CEO Stephen Jones told Global News in a statement Friday the airline has added six recovery flights for impacted passengers and crew, and is exploring other options.

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“The ULCC landscape is a challenging one, and the loss of a fellow disruptor only underscores this. Flair now stands as the sole ULCC in the country, and we believe that competition is essential for ensuring fair prices,” Jones said.

“While acknowledging other airlines’ discount efforts, it’s important to note that their discounted fares are still higher than our base fares. That is why ULCCs and competition are so critical. Maintaining a competitive market benefits consumers with lower prices and increased choice.”

'Very sad day’ for airline community: ex-Air Canada official

Duncan Dee, a former chief operating officer at Air Canada, issued a statement on X Thursday, formerly known as Twitter, calling Lynx’s closure a “very sad day for Canada’s airline community” and the communities it served.

“Unlike many countries on earth, Canada, sadly, is inhospitable territory for new entrants, especially ultra low-cost carriers,” he said.

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“Unless and until Canada has a serious look at its treatment of air travelers, airlines and airports as cash cows, this situation will never change.”

Lou Arab, communications representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said the union was “devastated” for their members impacted by Thursday’s announcement but will fight for them.

“We’ll make sure our members receive anything the company is legally obligated to provide that might include severance and back pay on a case-by-case basis,” he said in an interview with Global News. “We will fight to ensure that employees get everything they’re legally entitled to.”

CUPE represents 240 flight attendants at Lynx, Arab said.

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Click to play video: 'Cost of WestJet’s shut down of Swoop'
Cost of WestJet’s shut down of Swoop

Lynx made its inaugural flight on April 7, 2022. After Monday, it will join former airline Swoop as the latest Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier to cease operations.

WestJet, which owned Swoop, shut it down last year and folded its operations into its main business. The airline also announced it will integrate Sunwing Airlines, which it acquired last spring, into WestJet’s mainline business by October.

— with files from Global News’ Sean Previl

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