January 9, 2016 2:22 pm
Updated: January 11, 2016 12:10 pm

Avoid new ‘ultra low-cost’ airline, passenger advocate warns

Dean Dacko, Chief Commercial Officer of NewLeaf Travel speaks at a press conference in the arrivals area of the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.


A new “ultra-low cost” Canadian airline is presenting an attractive new travel option, but one passenger advocate is warning travellers to avoid those tempting fares.

NewLeaf airlines officially unveiled its new deeply discounted routes Wednesday, offering flights from Halifax, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina and Kelowna, among others, for prices ranging from $89 to $149.

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However, air travel expert and passenger champion Gabor Lukacs warns there are “serious, serious issues” with the company and recommends passengers refrain from jumping at tempting fares.

READ MORE: ‘Ultra low-cost’ Canadian airline takes off next month

Among the most troubling problems, Lukacs says, is the absence of a detailed and legally compliant tariff. The tariff, also known as a contract of carriage, spells out airline liability and passenger rights, essentially acting as the small print on your ticket.

Lukacs says the airline’s carriage conditions don’t properly cover important issues including overbooking policy, passenger rerouting or baggage liability.

“There are serious liability issues and the airline does not comply with what the law says,” he told Global News.

“I welcome more competition but until they get those things worked out, I urge people not to fly with them.”

Those issues aside, Lukacs also expressed scepticism about the airline’s business plan, which involves flying from “smaller and secondary airports,” and also bypasses major hubs like Toronto and Montreal. The business plan has worked for similar discounted operations in Europe, but Lukacs says it still presents risks.

“Certainly it is worth trying since it may reduce competition,” Lukacs said. “But you wonder who will be their customers? Having a stopover at a small airport is a very good idea but only flying into small airports, what kind of markets are you picking up?”

NewLeaf is embarking on a risky venture, as low-cost airlines have poor track record in Canada. Two discounted carriers, SkyGreece and CanJet, ceased operations within days of each other last summer, joining other failed ventures such as JetsGo, Zoom Airways, Roots Air and VistaJet.

NewLeaf did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.



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