April 21, 2022 By The Canadian Press
Flair Airlines CEO Stephen Jones is set to address an industry backlash to his request to exempt the budget carrier from Canadian ownership rules.
In a preliminary determination last month, the federal transport regulator found that Flair may not be “controlled in fact” by Canadians — a violation of federal law — as Miami-based investor 777 Partners holds a “dominant” influence over the airline.
Two airline associations, that represent Air Canada, WestJet and 30-odd other carriers, this week called on Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to reject Flair’s exemption request and warned that a green light would set a “troubling precedent.”
Jones dismissed the associations’ claims in a statement Tuesday, saying the National Airlines Council of Canada represents the interests of legacy carriers, not passengers or healthy competition.
The CEO, who has asked for an 18-month exemption to the rules, nonetheless says Flair conforms to legislation that allows no more than 49 per cent ownership of a Canadian airline by foreign entities.
The Canada Transportation Act also states no one foreign player can own more than a quarter of the carrier or exert effective control over it.