Impacted passengers say ticket refunds for cancelled flights aren’t good enough after Winnipeg-based discount travel company NewLeaf announced in a Facebook post Tuesday it will cancel its planned flight service to Phoenix-Mesa in 2017.
Two groups of Calgarians said Wednesday their February Family Day holiday trips to Phoenix are now in shambles after NewLeaf abruptly dropped the service.
She was planning to fly to Phoenix with her two children next month.
Another Calgary family who was flying with NewLeaf said they lost money with other travel-related expenses.
“We are out about $4,000 with the rental for the property and car rental–just that alone,” said Stephanie Fitzgerald.
NewLeaf is calling the cancellations a case of “the big guy squishing the little guy.”
“Despite all our efforts, in order to make it profitable, we just felt at this time we couldn’t turn that corner.”
The post attributed to Jim Young said “when an airline in Canada found out that NewLeaf was servicing Phoenix-Mesa they too decided to follow our schedule” and lowered its fares.
“We are very sorry, Alberta, but we cannot offer service to Phoenix-Mesa this year,” reads the post.
“This is a classic case of the big guy squishing the little guy so that the big guy can profit more…We sincerely hope and in fact challenge the other airlines to keep the fares low for you so that you can still travel south for the winter.”
The statement says the planned winter Florida route from Hamilton, Ont. will also be postponed.
Watch: A new Edmonton to Phoenix route has been cut and an upstart airline says it’s because it’s being muscled out of the market. Vinesh Pratap explains.
WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart told Global News the Greater Phoenix area is “a very competitive market served by numerous airlines with WestJet included among them.”
“The airline business is more challenging than it seems and this airline appears to be blaming one airline for their woes in a particular market without providing the travelling public the full story.”
NewLeaf said it’s in the process of refunding customers their tickets, but can’t cover additional travel-related expenses.
“We wouldn’t be offering additional compensation for travel not booked through NewLeaf,” Rempel said, adding that while customers may be upset, the company has been “overwhelmed” by support from the public.
“This wasn’t an easy day for us and it wasn’t an easy decision for us but in order to…be in business for the long haul, we needed and wanted to make these decisions that smartly affect the longevity of NewLeaf.
“Our motto is to continue to get people to their destinations affordably, so when we had to do this… it just is not happy day.”
Watch below from Nov. 2016: Are new low-cost airlines charting a new course towards cheaper fares in Canada? As Reid Fiest reports, the entry of NewLeaf Travel is showing some fares are decreasing.
With files from Gary Bobrovitz
Editor’s note: This story was originally published Jan. 3 and updated with comments from affected passengers Jan. 4.