Flair Airlines suddenly stops flying to some U.S. destinations
'We are super disappointed and frustrated,' Edmonton customer says
Canadian carrier Flair Airlines has suddenly suspended some of its flights to destinations in Florida and California as of next week, leaving some customers in the lurch.
The Kelowna-based airline, which only recently expanded its service to include U.S. destinations, surprised many of its customers with the unexpected news this week.
Flair customers have complained that March break holiday plans have been thrown up in the air because of the sudden decision, which apparently only includes destinations in Florida and California.
"Flair can confirm that we are suspending seasonal service to some US destinations beginning February 28th," a spokesperson for the airline told CBC News, adding that seasonal service to Miami and St. Pete-Clearwater in Florida will end ahead of schedule, as will flights to Palm Springs, Calif.
Flights to other U.S. destinations, including service to Orlando, Fla. out of Winnipeg, and Las Vegas and Phoenix routes out of Edmonton and Winnipeg, will continue as planned.
"We are in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or, for those who have already started their journey, alternative travel arrangements on other airlines."
Edmontonian Larissa Jardine was booked on a Flair flight to Orlando set to leave Edmonton on Friday and return March 1, when she checked her ticket recently to discover her return flight had been cancelled without her knowledge.
"We didn't receive any notification and had we not went to print the itinerary off, we would have found out at the airport tomorrow that we had no flight home," she said via email. She said she has scrambled to find a replacement flight home, but it will cost her about $600 and she'll lose one day of her vacation.
"This is our first time flying with Flair and we are super disappointed and frustrated," she said.
She also takes issue with the airline's contention that they are offering full refunds, noting the airline has only offered her $350 for her round trip package for two that cost her $961 once baggage and other fees were included.
"They do not seem to feel bad about ... all the inconveniences it has caused," she said.
The airline says no flights within Canada are affected, but cited "disappointing load factors" on some of the new U.S. routes to explain the decision.
"The routes affected were always planned as seasonal service. Suspending these services earlier than expected was not a decision we took lightly, and we explored every option prior to coming to this decision," Flair said.
Business professor Barry Prentice at the University of Manitoba says cancelling flights with short notice will cost the airline in terms of its reputation in the short term, but ultimately he says the decision was probably the right business decision if passenger loads weren't what they anticipated.
"They have to cover all their costs and they're not getting enough traffic, then they obviously have to suspend their operations," he said in an interview. "I think they're they're being very responsible in their actions."
Airline analyst Ken Beleshko says given how cutthroat the aviation business can be, it's perhaps no surprise to see an upstart go through a bumpy ride while it finds its wings.
"it's not surprising at all because it's a very tough market and they have limited resources," he said in an interview. "They don't have enough airplanes to really service such an ambitious route structure."
"This is potentially turning off the people who were willing to fly Flair before," he said. "It has potential to alienate some of their customers by doing this cancellation so abruptly."
With files from Jacqueline Hansen