Discount Aircraft Eyes Winnipeg For Hub But Faces Opposition From First Nations

Travellers may clear Canada Jetlines for landing. However, a speculation gathering of seven Manitoba First Nations needs the discount aircraft startup grounded before departure. Canada Jetlines need Transport Minister Marc Garneau to give the B.C.- based company an exclusion in light of foreign investment rules for aircrafts. The current limit is 25%. The company says it has investors lined up from Europe and needs the cap raised to 49%.”

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Canada Jetlines president and CEO Jim Scott says the company will convey new ultra low fares to Winnipeg, and 250 direct employments and 1,200 total jobs, and in addition infuse $260 million into the local economy by the eighth year of operation.

The prairie city would turn into an east-west hub for the carrier, he said.

Be that as it may, to locate the capital (around $27 million) to fulfill requirements for a federal aircraft licence, the company needs Ottawa to ease foreign investment restrictions.

The company requested letters from politicians and stakeholders across the nation, requesting that the federal government grant Jetlines the exemption. However, the South Beach Capital Partners are sending the priest an alternate letter.

“Winnipeg is, by its geographical location, a place to have crews based and to have aircraft overnighting, and by overnighting creating the maintenance,” Scott said.

“They basically said the same thing; our communities are not being fully developed because they don’t have the proper air service into them.”

The group of seven Manitoba First Nations recently made a sizable investment in NewLeaf Travel. The Winnipeg-based ticket seller has partnered with Flair Airlines to offer discount flights, operating 60 flights a week starting in July.

Speaking on behalf of the South Beach Capital Partners, Brokenhead Chief Jim Bear says the letter being sent to the federal minister for a rule change will lead to a definite no.

Bear says the accomplices are likewise writing to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett to campaign for their benefit against the exclusion. The group would like to influence its interest in NewLeaf into preparing partnerships with schools, for example, Red River College.

Bear noticed that the port of Churchill and the rail line to the group are in the hands of  foreign investors, and now the port is being shut and rail services have been sliced down the middle.

Winnipeg Airports Authority president Barry Rempel kept in touch with the government transport minister with his support of the exception for Canada Jetlines. Rempel says Canada’s foreign investments limitations ought to reflect what’s occurring globally, and said that as they may be, they are excessively strict. He indicates Australia, with what he says is a blasting carrier industry and few investment restrictions.

The airport executive says easing the restrictions could even benefit NewLeaf in the long run, but he sympathizes with the investment partners and the company.

“I do feel obviously for them in that they feel the rules are changing since they started that investment.”

Rempel says more companies such as NewLeaf and additional routes out of Winnipeg are good news for consumers.

“There is more competition here now. New routes to new places, and the fares are the kind of fares that are encouraging people to travel, so it’s a good summer for our community.”

NewLeaf president Jim Young says the organization’s first month of operation in Winnipeg has been a win and it is looking at new routes for the fall. As a sign of commitment to the city, Young says, it has chosen to base an aircraft here, which implies crews and maintenance work feeding the local economy. But, Young isn’t satisfied with the  idea of investment restrictions being changed for Canada Jetlines pretty much as NewLeaf is taking off.

“There is already an ultra low-cost carrier in the combination of NewLeaf and Flair in the market. As a result, let’s see how that works… We don’t necessarily need to see a ton of competition thrown into the market.”

Nevertheless, he says they are ready to compete if necessary.

Young says he is proud of the investment South Beach Capital Partners has made, and the First Nations investment is about as Canadian as you can get.

“Getting First Nation investment was a big achievement as far as NewLeaf was concerned. It’s good for Manitoba.”


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