A new low-cost airline that had announced it will offer direct flights from Abbotsford to Winnipeg and Saskatoon starting Feb. 12 has postponed its plans.
NewLeaf Travel Company stated in a press release that its flights across Canada are “temporarily postponed” pending a Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) review of licensing regulations for indirect air service providers.
Chief executive officer Jim Young said all credit card transactions will be refunded for reservations that were scheduled to begin Feb. 12.
“During this uncertain time, we didn’t want to put anyone with existing bookings at risk, and we wanted to give customers time to make other travel arrangements,” Young said.
He said the airline launched on Jan. 6 because it was confirmed that NewLeaf was in full compliance with CTA licensing regulations, and the company was given an exemption from holding a licence directly while the agency reviewed its legislation.
Under a charter agreement with Kelowna-based Flair Airlines Ltd., Flair held the CTA operating licence, while NewLeaf offered seat sales.
“Now, there is ambiguity in the air as to whether we need to amend the relationship with our air service provider, or whether we need to have a licence ourselves,” Young said.
The CTA is reviewing whether people who do not operate any aircraft, but market and sell services to the public, should be required to hold agency licences.
As part of its review, the CTA is consulting with, and seeking comments from, stakeholders before finalizing its approach. The consultations end this Friday, Jan. 22.
NewLeaf Travel initially launched its website and started selling tickets to seven Canadian destinations on Jan. 6. Young said the response has been “overwhelming” and “reinforces the fact that Canada needs, and can support, an ultra low-cost carrier that creates competition in air travel.”
Introductory one-way fares from Abbotsford International Airport will start at $89, with flights on a Boeing 737-400 plane with 156 seats.
Two weekly flights are planned to Saskatoon and one to Winnipeg. All flights will connect to Hamilton, Ont.
NewLeaf did not give any indication of when they anticipate a new start date for the flights.
Those who made reservations are guaranteed the opportunity to re-buy their seat for the price they paid for it when NewLeaf resumes sales.
Anyone who has not received their full refund by the end of this week is asked to call 204-888-4357.