Lynx Air shuts down three months ahead of scheduled expansion into Ottawa

Lynx Air

Travellers hoping to take a discount flight to or from Ottawa will have fewer options as low-cost airline Lynx Air announced a sudden halt to its operations yesterday.

Lynx Air will cease operations as of Monday, Feb. 26 and told customers with bookings after that to seek refunds from their credit card companies.

The Calgary-based firm was set to begin flight operations at the Ottawa International Airport beginning in May, with flights to Ottawa from Calgary and Vancouver, the airline announced in December

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At that time, airport authority president and CEO Mark Laroche had said “Lynx’s presence enhances our commitment to providing accessible and convenient travel options for all.”

The airline was planning to offer four flights a week to and from both destinations and was set to be the only budget carrier offering flights to Ottawa from Calgary and Vancouver as competition ramps up in the Canadian aviation industry. Ottawa would have been the 19th destination served by Lynx.

In a news release Thursday evening, Lynx Air said it had obtained an initial order from the Alberta Court of King’s Bench for creditor protection.

The airline did not say how many customers would be left in the lurch by the shutdown, which is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. MT Feb. 26.

Lynx Air directed passengers to a frequently asked questions section on its website. On its site, it said it would continue to operate the majority of its flights through the weekend and that anyone whose flight is cancelled would be notified via email. It also said travel and flight vouchers wouldn’t be accepted once operations cease.

“Every effort is being made to assist passengers at this time,” the airline said in its release.

“Passengers with existing bookings are advised to contact their credit card company to secure refunds for pre-booked travel.”

The airline cited “significant headwinds” over the past year including rising costs, high fuel prices, exchange rates, increasing airport charges, and a difficult economic and regulatory environment.

“Operating as an ultra low-cost carrier, Lynx launched its inaugural flight in April 2022, growing its fleet and number of destinations while doubling its volume of passengers over the past two years,” the company said. 

“However, despite substantial growth in the business, ongoing operational improvements, cost reductions and efforts to explore a sale or merger, the challenges facing the company’s business have become too significant to overcome.”

In a statement, a Lynx spokesperson said it was a difficult day for everyone at the company and an “exceptionally difficult day” for customers. 

“Growing financial pressures have made it impossible to continue our operations,” the spokesperson said.

Canada’s transport minister said he’s thinking of those who are affected by the news.

“For any travellers that had a return flight booked with Lynx, I expect Lynx to help you get back home as soon as possible,” Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement posted on social media. “I expect Lynx to fully refund you if your fare won’t be honoured.

“My office has been in touch with Lynx, we will continue to communicate with all parties, and we’ve convened calls with other airlines to see how they can help, to ensure that passengers are put first.”

The airline’s fleet consists of nine Boeing 737 Max 8s. Lynx’s website lists 23 destinations, including most major Canadian cities and U.S. locations such as Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa Bay. 

The newest of Canada’s ultra-low-cost carriers, Lynx counts among its investors Stephen Bronfman’s Claridge Inc. and Bill Franke’s Indigo Partners, a U.S. private equity firm that invests in no-frills airlines such as Wizz Air and Frontier Airlines. 

Ottawa travellers seeking discount options will take another hit this summer as Edmonton-based Flair Airlines, a low-cost carrier that began serving Ottawa in 2021 and currently offers non-stop flights to 11 destinations, including Calgary and Vancouver, told YOW officials earlier this fall it plans to reduce service to the nation’s capital.

The airline did not specify which routes would be cut.

– With files from David Sali and The Canadian Press

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