Mackenzie, B.C., resident Susan Crosby said she and her partner had just completed a three-hour drive to Prince George to catch a Flair flight to Arizona when the flight was cancelled Friday.
“They offered to reschedule, but the rescheduling was having us leave Tucson on March 17 and have us going from Prince George to Tucson on the 24th,” Crosby said. “It was just a mess.”
Crosby said they cancelled their tickets, and a Flair employee offered them “an equitable amount” comparable to what they paid, however, shortly afterward, they received an email for a different amount. They said they have not received any money from the company yet.
“We do have travel issuance, and it appears the airline is having trouble — so we’ll just have to wait and see I guess,” Crosby told Global News on Sunday.
“(Flair) told us the flight was cancelled due to the crew not having enough time to rest in between flights.”
Spring break got off to a sputtering start for many Canadians that booked flights with Flair Airlines over the weekend after the ultra-low-cost carrier cancelled flights due to what they say they were told were “maintenance” issues.
But those cancellations come amid what Flair has called a “commercial dispute” with a U.S.-based lessor that seized four of its planes over recent days. It’s not clear if the cancelled flights were due to the planes being seized.
On Saturday, Flair Airlines issued statements through Twitter.
“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,” Flair staff said in a tweet.
“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.
“Alternatively, customers can 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.”
Crosby said at the airport there was no one at the counter to help passengers.
“I’m very disappointed in the airline, that they didn’t have better customer service there for us,” she said.
“And I really feel for the families. There were families with children for their spring break holiday and they aren’t going anywhere now and so it’s very disappointing.”
A Canadian travel expert and author, Claire Newell, said the issues could stem from the airline’s low airfare prices.
“(Their prices) are not sustainable. It’s great for consumers as they want to take advantage of this but be cautioned that if you are going to be buying really low airfare on a newer carrier that doesn’t have a lot of fleet, you need to get travel insurance to protect yourself against trip cancellations and interruptions,” she told Global News.
In an emailed statement to Global News Saturday, a spokesperson for Flair Airlines said four of its aircraft are “not operational” after “extreme and unusual” actions by a New York-based hedge fund and lessor.
“The airline is aggrieved by this unprecedented action,” the statement read.
The spokesperson added that the airline was involved in ongoing communications with the company and “payment has been initiated.”
“Flair Airlines will continue to engage in a consensual mediation with the lessor to remedy the situation,” it added.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the lessor in question is Airborne Capital.
The source, who isn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter, told Global News that Flair wired money to Airborne on Saturday but was five days behind on payments worth roughly $1 million.
Airborne Capital declined to comment when contacted by Global News.
— with files from Amanda Connolly, Whitney Stinson and Saba Aziz