A consumer advocate group has issued a warning about New Leaf Travel, a low-cost airline based in Winnipeg. The discount carrier flies out of eleven mid-sized Canadian cities, including Hamilton, but it continues to run into problems.
The warning comes from the Consumers Association of Canada over issues with New Leaf Travel and Flair Airlines. The two work together—Flair provides the planes and New Leaf sells the seats.
The Consumers Association says many Canadians have been forced to deal with arbitrary cancellations and changes that have affected thousands of travelers who purchased tickets.
New Leaf says there has been no contact with the consumers group and says the alert is just their opinion. It does admit to the cancellation of some service in January, but adds that consumers received a full refund.
Bruce Cran, with the Consumers Association, says in recent weeks, New Leaf has canceled about 3,000 international flights and more than 1,000 in Canada.
"We're saying to people, 'Look, know the risks. If you want to buy the $99 ticket, go ahead. But you are at risk with an airline that's prepared to cancel flights wholesale in the manner that they have,'" Cran said.
Cran says refunds don't cover the real costs of replacing a holiday at a bargain price because people have already paid, booked the time off from work and budgeted for their vacation.
New Leaf launched last year, offering one-way fares as low as $89 between Canadian mid-sized airports. The aim was to take some of the business away from American border airports like Buffalo and the growing number of Canadians who use them.