The four Flair Airlines jets seized for non-payment of rent are on the market for lease.
The planes’ owner, Airborne Capital of Dublin, on Thursday posted the Boeing 737s – three nearly new Max 8s and a 13-year-old model – on two aircraft sales websites. No prices are listed for the planes, described as “off-lease and available immediately,” on myairtrade.com and jetclassified.com.
Airborne repossessed the planes in the wee hours of March 11 at airports in Edmonton, Toronto and Waterloo, Ont., after Flair “regularly” missed payments worth millions of dollars for a period of five months, Airborne said last week. Airborne called the seizures a last resort, and said it expected to bear “material losses” over the repossession and remarketing of the planes.
Flair’s chief executive officer, Stephen Jones, said the seizures were unexpected and that the Edmonton-based discount airline owed about $1.3-million on the planes – money he had assured Airborne was coming within days.
Flair has filed a $50-million lawsuit against Airborne and associated companies over the seizures, and is seeking to have the planes returned.
Before the seizures, Airborne and another lessor, Bank of China Aviation, had been offering a total of 11 Flair planes to other airlines, The Globe and Mail has reported.
Mr. Jones has told The Globe and Mail that Flair’s U.S. investor, 777 Partners, paid the amounts owing on seven of those, and they remain in Flair’s possession. Flair added three backup planes and leased another to fulfill its schedule, he said.
Transport Canada cancelled the certificate of registration for the four aircraft at Airborne’s request, preventing them from being moved until they are re-leased or granted a certificate that allows them to be flown. “When the aircraft are leased to a different entity, they will then be reregistered into the system, and publicly available on the Civil Aircraft Registry Website,” said Sau Sau Liu, a Transport Canada spokeswoman.
Airborne declined to comment. Flair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A new 737 Max sells for about US$50-million, and a second-hand model leases for about US$350,000 a month.
The former Flair planes are on the market at a time of strong demand for the 737 Max, favoured by many carriers for its range, size and fuel efficiency amid a rebound in travel. Air Canada, WestJet and Lynx are among the airlines that fly the model.
Boeing received 561 orders for the 737 Max in 2022, and delivered 374 of them. Boeing’s order backlog for the 737 Max stood at 4,248 at the end of 2022. About 31 of the 737 Max planes roll off the production each month, and Boeing has said it plans to boost this rate to 38 this year.
In the fall of 2022, leasing company Babcock and Brown Aircraft Management bought five new Flair 737 Max planes from 777 Partners, the U.S. investor. Two of these planes are now operated by Sunwing Airlines of Toronto, and on Friday were at New York’s Rome Griffiss International Airport, according to a government database and FlightRadar24.