Launching NewLeaf airline – – – again

NewLeaf RattiSteve’s breakdown: The starts and stops of this launch makes marketing this business a bit of a challenge. And as far as we can see, there is no AOR the advertising or PR side.

WINNIPEG, Canada: NewLeaf has liftoff.

The NewLeaf Travel Company, a Winnipeg-based ultra-low-cost airline that was grounded before it took off, has been given clearance by the Canadian Transport Agency to hit the runway.

The transport agency announced its findings Tuesday from a review of licensing regulations for indirect air service providers stating NewLeaf does not need a licence because it is considered a reseller and not a carrier.

NewLeaf is partnering with Flair Airlines, a carrier based in Kelowna, B.C., to offer cheap flights out of seven smaller airports in five provinces. Flair Airlines is licensed.

A statement from the transport agency said, “resellers — companies who purchase seats from an air carrier and resell them to the public — will not be required to hold an air licence, so long as they do not hold themselves out to the public as being an air carrier that is operating an air service.”

The transport agency statement said an important distinction is that the reseller does not operate any aircraft. The air carrier operates the aircraft and carries the passengers who have bought tickets through the reseller.

“This is an important determination that will help create clarity and predictability for the air industry and travellers,” Scott Streiner, chairman and CEO of the transportation agency, said in a press release. “The determination recognizes the evolution of business models, encourages innovation and consumer choice in the market, and ensures continued protection for passengers.”

NewLeaf had begun taking reservations at deep discounts Jan. 6 and had been poised to begin flying its customers Feb. 12.

However, when concerns were raised about liability and passenger risk by a passenger advocate, NewLeaf announced Jan. 18 it would delay its launch date until after the transport agency review of its licensing regulations was complete.

The transport agency statement said a reseller will need to make it clear through its marketing material, including on its website and tickets, that it is a reseller, while clearly identifying the air carrier that is operating the aircraft.

“Air travellers will continue to be covered by the terms and conditions of carriage set out in the actual air carrier’s tariff, and transport staff will monitor this to ensure that legislative and regulatory requirements related to consumer protection are fully respected,” the press release stated.

That means Flair’s tariff document will be applied, once NewLeaf service begins.

A tariff is an airline’s contract with its passengers. Tariffs include terms and conditions relating to matters such as baggage liability, acceptance of children, compensation for denied boarding, failure to operate the service or failure to operate on schedule among other issues.

The transport agency review was completed after consideration of 26 submissions received through a public consultation process that ended Jan. 22.

When NewLeaf announced it would wait to begin transporting passengers until the transport agency review was complete, CEO Jim Young told the Free Press he hoped NewLeaf would be in the air by spring and its customers would return because “thousands and thousands of people” made bookings online. Those bookings were all refunded to give customers time to make other travel arrangements while NewLeaf waited for the outcome of the transport agency review.

“We’re the customers’ champion. We have brought low fares to the country and we’ve proven that people really want those,” Young told the Free Press.

Prior to delaying its launch date, NewLeaf was promising non-stop trips with flights from airports in Nova Scotia, Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Flights were expected to cost between $89 and $149, which would include all airline fees and additional taxes.

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