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CanJet Airlines ceases flight operations effective immediately

WATCH: It was a tough day for employees of CanJet. The struggling Halifax-based airline announced it’s grounding all flights. Ross Lord has the story.

TORONTO — The president of CanJet Airlines and the union representing employees say the company has ceased flight operations effective immediately, just months after the airline underwent significant layoffs.

Stephen Rowe told Global News the airline has suspended flight operations effective immediately, but will continue as a company to manage the four 737 airplanes in their fleet, which will be subsequently dry-leased to other airlines.

“The reason that we suspended flight operations today was really two things; basically operating one aircraft is not a very profitable exercise as you could imagine,” said Rowe.

“And also we as a company — we haven’t had the ability to identify a market opportunity that we can move forward with confidence in obtaining and being successful.”

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READ MORE: CanJet lays off nearly half its pilots, some flight attendants: unions

Lesley Swann, a spokeswoman for CUPE National, said flight attendants were taken completely off guard by the announcement today.

“CUPE Local 4044 and its members are in shock today. They found out only this morning that CanJet has ceased flying operations as of today,” she said.

“We are looking into any legal avenues we may have. Right now, we are focusing on assisting our members any way we can during this difficult time.”

Rowe said the financial risk associated with the airline was “fairly extreme,” but the company will continue to explore other options so that “maybe one day we can get back in the air.”

“We’re just going to take a step back and continue as a group to see if we can come up with a business plan, which like I said we haven’t identified one to date, that we’re comfortable as a company moving towards,” he said.

“So we didn’t see much point in carrying on operating one airplane unprofitably and that was part of the reason why we put it on the ground today.”

The Airline Pilots Association issued a statement in April that said 47 pilots will be let go by the charter airline, saying the union had worked for months with management to mitigate involuntary layoffs.

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Meanwhile, the Canadian Union of Public Employees confirmed in April that 38 seasonal and nine permanent flight attendants had also received layoff notices.

Rowe said the move affected about 15 pilots and 40 flight attendants based in Toronto, in addition to support staff at CanJet’s head office in Halifax, N.S.

WATCH:  CanJet announced it is laying of most of its staff. The airline has ceased its European operation, saying it’s simply not profitable. Ross Lord has the details.

“It’s a sad day for the company, we’ve been operating aircrafts for 20 years and hopefully maybe one day we will find that business plan that we can get back operating again,” Rowe said, adding that the airline will maintain its leased airplanes until they are due back to their owners in May 2016.

“Maybe between now and then we will find that opportunity that we’re confident we can move forward and be successful at.”

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Rowe added that the current aircraft CanJet operates for Air Transat under an ACMI wet lease will be transferred to Air Transat’s fleet of 737 aircrafts.

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