“Domestic control and ownership is not just a ‘nice to have’”:  Flair’s competitors speak out

Two weeks before May 3 deadline, Flair confident in CTA review process

TORONTO — The Canadian Transportation Agency’s March 3 preliminary review of Flair Airlines’ ownership came with a 60-day window for Flair’s response, and at this point there’s just two weeks left before the deadline.

But even with that ever-approaching date, and with all the consumer media coverage surrounding the CTA’s look at Flair’s ownership, Flair’s President Stephen Jones is confident the carrier will keep flying.

As posted last week, consumer media including Global News reported that Flair could lose its license to operate in Canada as early as May 3. Global obtained a copy of the CTA’s preliminary determination, submitted March 3, which noted that Flair may not meet Canada’s requirements for Canadian ownership. Flair was given 60 days to respond.

Foreign ownership in Canadian airlines can’t be higher than 49%. That percentage drops to 25% if the foreign investment is from one individual. There are also rules around foreign interests controlling a Canadian carrier.

777 Partners, based in Miami, owns 25% of Flair, plus has three of the five seats on its board, and leases a number of aircraft to Flair.

Questions surrounding Flair’s ownership have been swirling for months. Earlier this year reports emerged that the CTA had formed a panel to look into the situation.

In a recent interview with Vancouver media, Jones said: “I want to be really clear. We will not be grounded as a consequence of this review. This is an administrative process that we have a lot of  influence over the outcome because we are going to listen to what the concerns are and we’ll deal with them.”

Jones also said travellers should be confident booking flights on Flair, and he added that Flair is working with the CTA to address the CTA’s concerns.

His recent comments are in keeping with his statement to the Globe and Mail earlier this year: “Flair is completely compliant with all applicable airline regulations, including those dealing with Canadian control. Flair is a private company, and while we have always and will continue to coordinate with all regulators as necessary, our shareholders and financial affairs are confidential.”

Flair, along with Canada’s other ultra low-cost carriers, new entrants and legacy airlines, is set to battle it out for market share this summer as the industry looks to maximize all the pent-up demand after two years of the pandemic.

In December 2021 Flair announced its expansion plans into the U.S. with 17 new routes from Canadian gateways.

Weeks earlier Flair announced its expansion into sun destinations including Cancun and Los Cabos.

On April 14, Flair posted this message on its Twitter account: “We’ve read the news, and the comments and we understand the sentiment caused by the media. We are a Canadian airline that will be here for years to come. Committed to our purpose: Value travel for Canadians.”