Title: “Lynx Air Bankruptcy Crisis: Tales of Disrupted Travel and Calls for Government Action”

2024-02-25 01:14:17

Failed concert, ruined vacation, hefty bills: Quebecers who had trusted Lynx Air to travel found themselves desperate on Friday when the airline abruptly ended its activities.

• Read also: Bankruptcy of Lynx Air: Air Canada adds 6,000 “affordable” seats

• Read also: End of activities: all Lynx Air flights already canceled at Montreal-Trudeau

“I’ve been to every state. I was angry, then I cried,” says Alexa Liendo.

The 49-year-old Montrealer was scheduled to board a Lynx Air flight to Tampa on Friday to spend four days with her family in Florida, in addition to attending a Sting concert in the southern state on Saturday evening. -United.

It was on the way to Montreal-Trudeau airport that she received a simple email from the low-cost airline informing her that all its flights, including hers, were canceled.

The day before, Lynx Air announced that it was going bankrupt. The end of its activities was then scheduled for Monday, leading many customers to believe that the flights planned until then would be maintained.

“Photo taken from the Lynx Air website”

At the airport the prices of other flights consulted by Ms. Liendo started at $800, even $1000, which was well beyond her budget. She had to cancel her stay.

“I was depressed,” she confides. I had in mind seeing my family who I hadn’t seen since last year. There were dinners planned, we had great concert tickets. Sting is one of my favorite artists and he’s not coming to Montreal.”

Stuck across the country

According to estimates by Professor John Gradek, a specialist in aircraft management at McGill University, the cancellation of Lynx Air flights scheduled for the week following the announcement of the bankruptcy affected at least 10,000 Canadians.

Across the country, nightmare stories from customers have multiplied, including in Toronto where passengers were told on a Lynx Air plane that they would not be able to take off, according to what the CBC reported.

Olivier Bellemare, 22, flew with Lynx Air for a trip to Western Canada, notably to visit his cousin.

The Trois-Rivières resident had the same unpleasant surprise on Friday when his return flight to Montreal scheduled for the next day was canceled.

“I had to go out of my way and buy a ticket with West Jet. It cost me $600 when my initial round trip was $500. Fortunately I had the money saved. I wasn’t planning on spending that.”

Chaos even in Florida

Sébastien Hamel, originally from Quebec, was in Orlando on Friday and was even able to get to his boarding gate before Lynx Air let him down.

“Until 5 minutes before the supposed takeoff, it was written that the flight was on time. The plane was there and we saw the crew get out,” says the man who shared his adventure via TikTok.

However, he was never able to get on board. “A lot of people were trying to book another flight at the same time, it was stuck.”

His misadventure took him to a hotel infested with cockroaches before taking a new flight the next day for more than double what he had paid with Lynx Air.

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“We spent at least 600 USD$ (800 CAD$) more because of that,” he laments.

The federal government must intervene, believes an expert

Low-cost airlines are struggling to survive in Canada because they are victims of “predatory” practices on the part of West Jet and Air Canada, deplores an expert who calls on the federal government to intervene.

“In the last 20 years, I have seen at least twenty carriers go through the same range. There is Harmony Airways, Quebecair, Zoom […]», Lists Professor John Gradek, specialist in aircraft management at McGill University.

Like Lynx Air, these companies have not been able to survive due to the “predatory duopoly” practices of West Jet and Air Canada, which temporarily lower their prices in order to stifle competition, Mr. Gradek explains.

“Previously, the difference in fares was around $300 one way, but last fall, West Jet and Air Canada lowered their prices so that it reached $100. For me it was the beginning of the end [de Lynx Air] and I believe that Flair will suffer the same fate by the end of the year,” he maintains.

Especially since it is difficult for any airline linking Canadian cities to offer low prices, given the long distances to be covered and the lower volume of travelers than in Europe and the United States, for example. .

“Too expensive” flights

Canadian consumers are the main losers in this context, laments Olivier Bellemare, whose return flight with Lynx Air was canceled on Friday.

“It’s rare that we see someone traveling to Canada for vacation because it’s too expensive for the middle class world, with inflation affecting the price of everything. The entire middle class is impacted by this bankruptcy.

Professor Gradek believes that the federal government must regulate prices in order to maintain a reasonable gap between the big players and the low-cost companies, otherwise the latter will never be able to evolve in our market.

“Being able to fly is absolutely necessary for the survival of Canada because of the size of our country. The year 2023 was one of the best years for domestic tourism spending by Canadians. The reason? Flair and Lynx.”

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