New discount airline set to take off, again

By Greg Higgins
April 5, 2016 - 12:23pm

Soon you will be able to fly within Canada for a fraction of the cost. The Canada Transportation Agency gave the discount airline New Leaf the green light to continue operations on March 29.

“The CTA has found that we were in complete compliance with their regulations,” said New Leaf Chief Commercial officer Dean Dacko. “Now we are back and ready to resume our sales.”

Dacko said it could take a while before sales start back up. The airline wants to make sure everything regarding communications are in complete compliance with the CTA. This could take as little as a week or two, or as long as a couple of months.

This will be the second start up for New Leaf as they originally started selling tickets on Jan. 6.

“When we did launch,” said Dacko, “it created quite the firestorm of activity from various different stake holder groups of competitors.”

Other airlines made direct inquiries to the CTA that were beyond what New Leaf’s original understanding was.

“Airlines like Air Canada and West Jet are required to hold an air operator’s licence,” said Dacko. “They wanted the CTA to rule that there should be a level playing field.”

Those airlines felt if they had to hold the license then New Leaf should too.

“The CTA wasn’t able to give us a determination so, at that point we decided that our best course of action was to protect the interest of our customers and to suspend ticket sales until we could get determination and complete clarity from the CTA,” said Dacko.

The decision was very difficult and financially challenging according to Dacko. New Leaf had to refund all the money it had received and put everything on hold, but they felt it was the right decision to make to protect the interest of their customers.

The conclusion the CTA came to was the difference between New Leaf and other airlines is that they work with an operating partner Flair Airlines, which does have an operating certificate and are completely and fully licensed. As long as they make it clear to the public when selling tickets that the service provider is Flair Airlines, they don’t need this license.

New Leaf is still working on its route network and schedule but Dacko said it will be very similar to the one they originally came out with in January.

There are seven cities in the network right now being Abbotsford, B.C. Halifax, Hamilton, Ont. Kelowna, B.C. Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Dacko said they are looking to add two more soon and then expand rapidly. New Leaf is looking to start out with two flights out of each airport to each destination per week.

The airline is able to save money for the passenger by flying in and out of underserved airports which don’t have expensive landing fees compared to an airport like Toronto’s Pearson International.

They will not have TVs as Dacko said on-flight entertainment is switching to a “you bring your own device” system and they will provide movies and entertainment that can be uploaded to them. There will be no meals included in the price of a flight but food and beverages can be purchased.

Flights will hold 186 passengers and start out as low as $89 and will go up to as high as $169 depending on how many tickets are sold.

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