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Canadian ULCC Lynx Air To Cease Operations on Feb. 26

The carrier has obtained protection from creditors and will stop all flights.

Lynx Air’s Boeing 737 aircraft. (Photo: Lynx Air)

Another one bites the dust. Calgary-based airline Lynx Air communicated on Thursday night that it has sought and obtained an initial order for creditor protection from the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta. The carrier will continue to operate all its flights regularly until 12.01 a.m. MST on Monday before shutting down its operations permanently.

“Over the past year, Lynx Air, has faced a number of significant headwinds including rising operating costs, high fuel prices, exchange rates, increasing airport charges and a difficult economic and regulatory environment,” the airline said in a press release.

“Tremendous work was put into the growth and expansion of Lynx Air over the past two years, offering Canadians a low-cost, seamless travel experience for Canadians”, says Lynx Air on its website. “However, the compounding financial pressures associated with inflation, fuel costs, exchange rates, cost of capital, regulatory costs and competitive tension in the Canadian market have ultimately proven too steep a mountain for our organization to overcome. It is with a heavy heart we leave the skies. We hope in our absence that our vision to Inspire More Canadians to Fly leaves its mark on our passengers.”

Eighteen destinations in three countries

The airline had launched in 2022 focusing around Calgary and Vancouver in Western Canada, and it subsequently expanded to include the main cross-country routes to Toronto and Montreal, with services reaching as far as Halifax and St. John’s in Atlantic Canada.

At the same time, Lynx Air started services to the United States serving destinations popular with Canadian tourists and snow-birds such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix as well as various destinations in Florida. On Feb. 15, 2024, Lynx Air had added a third country to its network commencing a six-weekly service between Toronto Pearson and Cancun, Mexico.

The airline was operating a fleet of nine Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with 189 seats in an all-economy configuration.

Lynx Air has advised all passengers holding reservations for flights after Feb. 26 to contact their credit card companies to obtain a refund on the amounts paid. Those passengers who have been caught in the middle of their trip by this announcement have been encouraged to change their reservations to one of the flights that are still operating.

During the past few weeks there had been a few rumors suggesting a possible merger between Lynx Air and Flair Airlines, the other Canadian start-up airline based in Western Canada that operates 20 Boeing 737 MAX-8 and adopts a similar business model.

The rumors were never confirmed by anyone at Flair Airline or Lynx Air, but they came on the tail of Flair Airlines being hit by an order of seizure for the carrier’s assets by the Canada Revenue Agency following an unpaid bill for 67.2m Canadian dollars ($49.8m) related to the import duties on the 20 aircraft that make up the airline’s fleet.

An inhospitable country for low-cost airlines

Canada is proving to be a harsh environment for smaller independent carriers wishing to take the benefits of low-fare airlines to the North. A lack of lower-cost airports, high aviation taxes, a large country with a low population density and a strong stranglehold of the incumbent carriers Air Canada, Porter Airlines and WestJet on lucrative trunk routes, especially in Eastern Canada, are leaving new start-up grasping at straws looking for profitable markets to grow.

Canadian airports are among the most expensive in the world as they are responsible for repaying their own capital costs as they are not considered strategic assets to support the country’s operating system. This is reflected on some of the highest airport taxes applied on airline tickets, making it extremely difficult to stimulate markets with low fares, which is central to the business model of low-cost airlines.

Vanni Gibertini

Author

  • Vanni Gibertini

    Vanni fell in love with commercial aviation during his undergraduate studies in Statistics at the University of Bologna, when he prepared his thesis on the effects of deregulation on the U.S. and European aviation markets. Then he pursued his passion further by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in the U.K. followed by holding several management positions at various start-up carriers in Europe (Jet2, SkyEurope, Silverjet). After moving to Canada, he was Business Development Manager for IATA for nine years before turning to his other passion: sports writing.

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