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Planned growth at YKF this summer not possible after four planes repossessed: Flair

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Flair Airlines says the seizure of four of its aircraft earlier this month means it won’t be able to increase the number of passengers travelling through Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) this spring and summer as planned.

The airline had predicted it would be able to grow its traffic through YKF by 30 per cent this spring and summer.

At a news conference on Friday, Chief Commercial Officer Garth Lund said overall spring/summer volume would be flat compared to last year, but up by 15 per cent by late summer.

“In the next couple months, there won’t necessarily be that growth coming through, but by the time we get to July, August, when people really want to travel, the growth will be there,” Lund said.

The airline also announced it’s suspending flights between Waterloo region and Edmonton, but preserving its other YKF routes, including plans to launch flights to Puerto Vallarta and Abbotsford later this year.

‘UNLIKELY’ FLAIR WILL GET SEIZED PLANES BACK

Earlier this month, four of Flair’s planes were seized after the airline allegedly fell behind on lease payments. The incident saw 12 flights across the county cancelled on the first day of March break.

Flair has launched a lawsuit against several plane-leasing companies over the incident.

On Friday, Flair CEO Stephen Jones says it’s “unlikely” Flair will be able to get those planes back.

“We would love to have them back, but lessors have made their own sort of decisions, you saw the nature of the activity that went on,” Jones said.

CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS

Pressed by journalists about reports of customers who have sworn off Flair after bad experiences with cancelled flights and delays, Jones said “everyone’s got to make their own choices,” but when he flies with Flair, he notices the planes are full.

“People are voting with their feet,” he said. “Our sales are strong.”

Jones also promised there was no danger of any other aircraft being repossessed, saying the company is “100 per cent up to date with all lease payments.”

ECONOMIC GROWTH AT YKF

Flair says its operations at YKF have created 188 aviation-related jobs and 226 tourism-related jobs in the region.

A report prepared on behalf of Flair by an aviation consultancy estimates the airline's contribution to the local gross domestic product at $36.3 million.

Jones said the Flair is committed to the Region of Waterloo for the long-term.

“We are the only airline in Kitchener-Waterloo of consequence,” he said.

“It’s an investment for us in that we’re having to work together with the region to develop the markets and I’m not going to say it’s an easy journey, but we are committed to it.”

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