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NewLeaf Halts Takeoff as CTA Reviews Licensing Regulations

January 18, 2016 2:36 PM | News

NewLeafCanada’s newest discount airline NewLeaf has postponed its takeoff plans for February 12 as the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) reviews licensing regulations.

The Winnipeg-based airline says it will refund all credit card transactions for reservations that were scheduled to begin on the 12th.

“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,” said NewLeaf CEO Jim Young.

The airline launched January 6 with a flashy news conference at Winnipeg’s James Richardson International Airport, promising low airfare and non-stop flights to seven Canadian destinations.

“The reason why we launched on January 6 is because it was confirmed that we were in full compliance of CTA licensing regulations,” Young said. “The CTA gave us an exemption from holding a licence directly while it reviews its legislation.”

Kelowna-based Flair Airlines, which operates flights on behalf of NewLeaf, has a CTA operating licence.

“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.”

Air passenger advocate and former University of Manitoba professor Gabor Lukacs expressed concern with NewLeaf not holding its own licence earlier this month. He said the airline otherwise leaves passengers with a financial risk.

The CTA’s review includes seeking comments from stakeholders. Consultations end on January 22 and comments can be submitted online.

NewLeaf’s introductory fares were to range from $89 to $149 and eventually increase by about $10-$15. Sales of all tickets have been suspended for the time being.

Young says he hopes the company can have its wheels off the tarmac by the spring.