Flair Airlines CEO to address ownership review as deadline to respond looms

The CEO of Flair Airlines is set to speak Thursday afternoon as the ultra-low-cost carrier seeks an exemption from Canadian ownership rules, a move its competitors say they oppose.

Flair is in the midst of a licence review from the Canadian Transportation Agency, which said in a preliminary finding last month that the Edmonton-based airline might not meet Canadian ownership requirements to fly in the country.

The air industry watchdog said Flair’s Miami-based business partner, 777 Partners, might have “control in fact” over the airline, which would violate rules under the Canada Transportation Act.

Read more: Flair Airlines could be grounded in Canada over foreign control concerns

Flair has until May 3 to respond to the CTA’s concerns, or it risks having its licence suspended.

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Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones is set to address the media on Thursday over what the airline called “speculation about the outcome” of the CTA review.

The airline has maintained it is Canadian and that it’s working with the CTA to meet its concerns, but applied to the transport minister for an 18-month exemption to the rules while it fixes a few outstanding issues.

But groups representing Canada’s major airlines released a joint statement this week calling on the minister to reject Flair’s request for an exemption.

The statement came from the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents large carriers such as Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet, and the Air Transport Association of Canada, another group representing airlines of all sizes in the country.

The industry groups said allowing Flair an exemption would allow the company to operate “outside the bounds of existing Canadian law,” calling the control-in-fact requirements under the Act “an important principle to uphold.”

“Domestic control and ownership is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is a necessary underpinning of the system, and should be defended. It ensures that there is fundamental fairness and protects against one diluted or foreign owned business causing harm to the competitiveness of the whole industry,” the statement read.

Global News will carry Jones’ comments live during the press conference set for 1 p.m. ET.

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