NewLeaf discount airline grounded: Manitoba travellers react
Winnipeg-based discount airline suspends service while federal agency reviews licence
Manitobans hoping to score cheap flights with NewLeaf Travel Company will have to wait, as the new discount airline has been grounded while its licensing is under review.
NewLeaf has postponed its plans to begin operations in February and will refund any reservations while the Canadian Transportation Agency reviews the licensing of indirect air service carriers.
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Company CEO Jim Young said the airline aims to resume taking reservations in the spring, and it would refund all current credit card charges so customers could make alternative travel arrangements.
"We'll be back and we'll be stronger than ever, and I think our customers will hopefully appreciate that," Young told reporters at the company's headquarters in Winnipeg on Monday afternoon.
While NewLeaf hopes customers will book with the airline again, frequent travellers like Karen and Brian Cinq-Mars say they'll probably hold off at this point.
The couple said they had looked into booking flights to Kelowna, B.C., through NewLeaf Travel.
"I would probably hesitate … because just the uncertainty, so I wouldn't go ahead and put money on them," Brian Cinq-Mars said at James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
Other travellers like George Jackimec say they'll still book with NewLeaf once the airline takes flight.
"A lot of the other airlines are a lot more expensive and a lot of people … maybe not so much now, but they used to go to Grand Forks to catch their flight, so it's sort of helping to keep things more localized," Jackimec said.
Young said the fledgling airline had been seeing huge demand and had thousands of bookings. Everyone who have already booked should get a refund within the next 72 hours, he added.
'We want to get back in the air,' says CEO
NewLeaf had a charter arrangement with Kelowna-based Flair Airlines Ltd., with Flair holding the CTA operating licence, while NewLeaf sold the seats.
"We encourage the CTA to complete their work, and we stand by to help them understand our side of the business in order for them to make a determination as soon as possible," Young said.
"We want to get back in the air."
A spokesperson for the Canadian Transportation Agency told CBC News Monday evening that it has been conducting the review since the fall.