News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg's NewLeaf discount airline 'reseller' given go-ahead to operate

NewLeaf hoped to launch in February, but regulatory hurdles prevented them from taking off.

Metro File / Metro

A company promising to offer cheaper domestic airfare in Canada has been given the go ahead to take-off, but just don’t call them an airline.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled this week that NewLeaf Travel can operate legally as planned—selling discount airline seats without an air license—if they make it clear they are a “reseller.”

The CTA is adamant that their approval of NewLeaf operations, and the ruling itself, hinges on the critical distinction between what makes the company a “reseller” rather than an “airline.”

“Resellers—companies who purchase seats from an air carrier and resell them to the public—will not be required to hold an air license, so long as they do not hold themselves out to the public as being an air carrier that is operating an air service,” the CTA said in a prepared statement.

Laurie Maybury, a CTA spokesperson, said the decision reflects an evolving air-transportation industry, and how “the agency is responding to a new business model that was prompted by consumer demand.”

The entire review of reseller operations was prompted after NewLeaf launched to much public fanfare for promised cheap fares in January.

Now, the company is applauding the final determination of that review.

“This is a victory for Canadian travellers,” said NewLeaf CEO Jim Young in a prepared statement. “The introduction of the distinctive term ‘reseller’ in airline regulation not only clarifies the role of NewLeaf in the travel marketplace, but also allows for innovation and consumer choice, while maintaining consumer protections.”

Maybury agreed it opens the marketplace, “allows for innovative business models, and could increase consumer choice.”

Young added that NewLeaf remains “determined to bring low-cost air travel pricing” to Canadians, and will resume booking in the “very near” future.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, NewLeaf’s service will initially take off using two planes operated by Canadian-based Flair Airlines. Young said the goal is to increase the number of Boeing 737-400 passenger jets in the air by 13 over the next three years.

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