By Ezra Gollan
Flair Airlines Files Lawsuit as Saga Drags On
On Wednesday, Flair Airlines — the trending Canadian ultra low-cost carrier — announced that it would be filing a $50 million CAD ($36.4 million) lawsuit against a lessor that claimed the carrier had failed to make payments on one of its aircraft last week.
The lawsuit against Airborne Air Capital — an Ireland-based lessor — was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and alleges that Airborne Air Capital had aimed to seize 4 of Flair’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and lease them out to different carriers in Canada. The lessor company had responded to Flair’s comments suggesting that Flair had failed to make on time payments on the fleet.
The airline was forced to cancel flights in recent days as aircraft were stranded across Canada in Edmonton, Toronto and Waterloo. The carrier released a statement on March 15 saying that, “Airborne Capital’s unlawful and immeasurably destructive actions were taken on the first weekend of many of our customers’ school breaks. This is profiteering on the backs of Canadians and was entirely unexpected and unwarranted.”
As of now, it is uncertain who is in the right here. Flair alleges in its court filing that Airborne Air Capital had been working with Canadian airlines, who are much larger than Flair in an effort to sabotage its operation though this claim for the time being is unsubstantiated.
According to the airline, it had reached an arrangement with the lessor to make delayed payments before the 4 aircraft were seized at around 3 am EDT on Saturday with no notice. Airborne Air Capital told CH-Aviation in a statement that, “Airborne Capital strongly rejects the allegations that have been made by Flair Airlines in recent days in relation to four Airborne-managed aircraft.”
The leasing of the four Airborne-managed aircraft was terminated following a five-month long period, during which Flair was regularly in default of its leases by failing to meet its payments when due, with payment arrears reaching millions of dollars,” It is unclear for the time being what is true and what isn’t since there has yet to be any ruling on the lawsuit though chances are the airline may be looking for a chance to get itself out of payments by causing a stir of sorts.
The seizing of aircraft is not a common practice by lessors and was most notably used during the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Flair, a low-cost carrier in a Canadian market that has long been notorious for a lack of low-cost options will likely continue to face an uphill battle combatting “Big Air” as the carrier puts it. The airline has been well received in Canada though the recent suit will likely mean more turbulence ahead for Flair in its quest to defeat “Big Air.”
The airline assured passengers that it will remain operating through the lawsuit and has deployed additional aircraft to cover flights.