|Defunct||July 25, 2017|
|Headquarters||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
NewLeaf Travel Company Inc., branded as NewLeaf, was a Canadian virtual airline, or ticket reseller, based at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in Manitoba. It sold tickets for flights operated by Flair Airlines.
In June 2017 Flair Airlines bought the company, with plans to expand its service. The NewLeaf brand was retired on July 25, 2017 when the scheduled flights were brought under the Flair Airlines brand.
NewLeaf was founded in April 2015 and originally described as an ultra low-cost carrier. As a result of the CTA case, the company was later positioned instead as a reseller, buying airline seats and then reselling them to the public.
Jim Young, a former executive of Frontier Airlines and Canada Jetlines, proposed the venture. Young announced the airline will fly to secondary airports in Canada in order to save on landing fees; it will also offer vacation packages, after experimenting with selling spring ski packages to the Okanagan. The airline will partner with Flair Airlines, which will provide aircraft, crew and maintenance.
In July 2016 two consulting companies who had done work in 2014 and 2015 for NewLeaf levelled complaints that they had not been paid a total of $135,000 owed. The unpaid bills raised media concerns that the company was having solvency issues, although a lawyer representing NewLeaf characterized the issues as supplier disagreements. One of the unpaid vendors launched a lawsuit against the company in July 2016 for the owed $76,000.
On July 12, 2016 media reports indicated that the company was no longer planning to serve Fort St. John, British Columbia, an initially-planned destination. Just five days prior to the first scheduled flights the company had not finalized arrangements, including landing fee deposits with Kelowna International Airport.
In July 2016, just before launching their service, the company was noted by CBC News as having some of the highest extra fees in the airline industry. CBC singled out NewLeaf for their fees of up to $92 to bring a carry-on bag on a flight and up to $80.50 for each checked bag.
A management analyst from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, Joe D’Cruz, indicated in July 2016 that the outstanding unpaid consultants and lack of airport deposits indicated that the company may be underfunded for start-up. In his evaluation, D’Cruz called the company a "shoestring effort" and assessed its chances of surviving a year in business as under 25%.
The company had announced that it would offer flights from Calgary and Edmonton to Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport commencing January 19, 2017 and from Hamilton to Orlando Melbourne International Airport, commencing January 15, 2017, but on January 3, 2017 they cancelled both routes, indicating that competition from WestJet on the same routes made them non-viable. The company had already sold many tickets to both new destinations when they cancelled the routes. NewLeaf is only refunding passengers the money that they paid, even though the Canadian Transportation Agency's notice to carriers standards of practice require them to book passengers on another airline, since the cancellation was under the company's control. Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs said, "it appears they are skirting their obligation to the public. This is a very very troublesome attitude." The CTA confirmed that because it is not an airline that the company does not fall under its jurisdiction. Airline analyst Rick Erickson said, "that's one of the risks you take when you go with a new startup versus one of the very well established majors. You can't be selling a $150 ticket to Phoenix, one way, and begin to think you can put that passenger on another carrier. Say a U.S. carrier going over Denver, the ticket is going to be $450, and NewLeaf just can't handle those costs."
In January 2017 NewLeaf cancelled a series of Sunday flights from Hamilton to Halifax, Halifax to Hamilton, Abbotsford to Edmonton and from Edmonton to Kelowna, citing a scheduling conflict with Flair Airlines that resulted in a lack of aircraft to fly the routes. NewLeaf spokeswoman Julie Rempel said that the "schedule change" would last six weeks and stated that "passengers have either been re-accommodated or can travel with us on a different day."
In June 2017 Flair Airlines bought NewLeaf. Flair said, "expansion is planned for new destinations beginning this year, plus the fall and winter domestic schedule will be released shortly,"
On January 6, 2016, NewLeaf held press conferences at its three bases to announce it would begin flights on February 12, 2016. However, on January 18 NewLeaf announced the inaugural date had been postponed until the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) completed review of its licensing procedures. The review was to determine whether NewLeaf would be allowed to operate under an indirect licence, i.e. the licence of Flair Airlines or require its own operating certificate. While the case was being considered by the CTA, NewLeaf refunded all previously sold tickets. On March 29, 2016, the CTA completed the review and ruled that these airlines are not required to hold separate licenses.
Following the March 2016 ruling, NewLeaf indicated that they would soon resume booking, however the next month, Gábor Lukács, an air passenger advocate, filed a request for leave to appeal the CTA decision to the Federal Court of Appeal and the court granted leave for the appeal. The company announced on June 23, 2016 that they would commence selling tickets immediately for flights that would start on July 25, 2016.
In late July the company announced that it was suing Lukács in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench for defamation, requesting unspecified damages. The company alleged that Lukács carried out an "unrelenting, aggressive and malicious attack" via social media and published "false and/or misleading" information about the company and its business model.
|Canada||Abbotsford||Abbotsford International Airport||—|||
|Canada||Calgary||Calgary International AirportSeasonal||—|||
|Canada||Edmonton||Edmonton International Airport||—|||
|Canada||Halifax||Halifax Stanfield International Airport||—|||
|Canada||Hamilton||John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport||—|||
|Canada||Kelowna||Kelowna International Airport||Suspended|||
|Canada||Regina||Regina International Airport||Suspended|||
|Canada||Moncton||Greater Moncton International Airport||Suspended|||
|Canada||Saskatoon||Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport||Suspended|||
|Canada||Victoria||Victoria International Airport||Suspended|||
|Canada||Winnipeg||Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport||—|||
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