British Columbia

Consumer group issues alert over NewLeaf and Flair Air

The Consumers' Association has issued an alert concerning NewLeaf Travel Company and Flair Air over "arbitrary cancellations and alterations to flight dates and times."

'These [companies] are offering flights that they obviously have difficulty performing'

The Consumers' Association of Canada has issued an alert over discount flight seller NewLeaf Travel and operator Flair Air. (NewLeaf)

The Consumers' Association of Canada has issued an alert concerning NewLeaf Travel Company and Flair Air over what it is calling "arbitrary cancellations and alterations to flight dates and times."

"Buyers of NewLeaf tickets should be asking themselves the question, 'Does the saving of buying cheap tickets warrant the risk of being stranded?" reads the alert.

NewLeaf is Winnipeg-based ticket vendor which sells "ultra-low-cost air travel" on charter carrier Flair Air, which is based in Kelowna. 

Bruce Cran, president of the association, says 3,000 international travellers and 1500 to 1600 domestic Canadian travellers have been impacted.

"These [companies] are offering flights that they obviously have difficulty performing," said Cran. "We certainly aren't saying [travellers] haven't got refunds, but a refund doesn't help you any if you have a two week holiday booked and you can't get there and you can't find a way back — it's a very difficult situation."

Last month NewLeaf cancelled a number of flights between Edmonton, Kelowna, Abbotsford, Halifax and Hamilton. It also dropped flights to destinations in Florida and Arizona. 

Although NewLeaf offers refunds for cancelled flights, it does not have to abide by the Canadian Transportation Agency guidelines that say if a flight is cancelled for reasons within an airline's control, it must rebook passengers at its own expense on another flight or airline.

That's because the CTA does not require NewLeaf Travel Company Inc. to hold a licence because it is considered a ticket reseller and not the operator. 

In a statement, NewLeaf spokeswoman Julie Rempel told CBC News, "NewLeaf Travel Company has never been contacted by this organization.  As you can see, the statement is in fact an opinion."

"It is unclear why an organization, who again has never contacted NewLeaf to gain an understanding of the facts would choose and try to damage our reputation." 

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