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Lynx Air shutting down Monday, tells passengers to seek refunds through credit cards

CALGARY — Low-cost airline Lynx Air announced a sudden halt to its operations as of Monday and told customers with bookings after that to seek refunds from their credit card companies.

In a news release sent Thursday evening, the Calgary-based firm 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 Monday.

The airline directed passengers to a frequently asked questions section on its website. There, 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.

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"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.

Lynx's CEO announced her departure last June, with no successor named since.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2024.

The Canadian Press