Jetsgo shuts down, strands travellers

Airliner Jetsgo has announced that it will stop all operations immediately. Passengers are advised to make alternative travel plans.

Discount airline Jetsgo grounded its fleet early Friday morning, advising travellers to find another way to get to their destination while it seeks bankruptcy court protection.

The company issued the announcement just after midnight, blaming the decision on "difficult market conditions and competitive pressures."

Passengers are being advised to make alternate travel arrangements as no Jetsgo staff or aircraft will be available at airports.

Travellers looking to return from a trip must book with other airlines. Competitor WestJet is offering stranded Jetsgo passengers and crew special fares.

The shutdown comes at the start of March break, one of the busiest travel times of the year. At least 18 flights had been scheduled to leave Toronto's Pearson Airport Friday morning, including flights to Canadian, American and Mexican destinations.

Donna Hume travelled an hour from her home in Chester, N.S., to the Halifax airport to catch an early morning flight for her daughter's surprise birthday party. She says she was shocked when she got to the airport and learned the news.

"I've calmed down some, but I'm still shaken," said Hume, who has booked with another airline.

Travellers in the airport said Jetsgo computers and planes were removed in the middle of the night.

"We deeply regret that this had to happen. The decision to cease operations was only taken after difficult deliberation. We are very concerned about our customers and the significant hardship that this action causes," said Michel Leblanc, president of Jetsgo, in a statement.

Leblanc founded the company in June 2002 from the ashes of Canada 3000 Inc., which collapsed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks caused a downturn in air travel.

In its news release, Jetsgo said it will be asking the Quebec Superior Court to grant it bankruptcy protection.

Although the Montreal-based airline flew primarily between Canadian cities, Jetsgo also provided flights to New York, Las Vegas and destinations in Mexico and Florida.

Jetsgo had recently filed a $50-million lawsuit against WestJet Airlines and two of its executives, alleging that its competitor had managed to get information to "gain an unfair competitive advantage over Jetsgo and prey upon Jetsgo's business and operations by targeting both profitable and vulnerable routes, flight times and fares."

The company said clients who have paid for Jetsgo tickets should contact the Canadian Transportation Agency: 1-888-222-2592.