A commercial dispute with lessor Airborne Capital saw the attachment of four of Flair Airlines' B737 MAX at the weekend, the airline confirmed to local media.

A statement from the airline called the move by "a New York-based hedge fund" to take the aircraft "extreme and unusual." Calgary Sun newspaper reported the aircraft were seized in Toronto Pearson, Edmonton International, and Kitchener.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Flair leases six B737-8s from Airborne Capital. The ultra-low-cost carrier has a leased fleet of 19 of the type, as well as three B737-800s. ADS-B data shows that C-FLKA (msn 64943) was attached in Edmonton and C-FLKC (msn 61807) was attached in Toronto on March 11, but both are back in service, while C-FLKD (msn 61806) is still parked at Kitchener since March 10, as is C-FLKI (msn 64944) which has been parked at Edmonton since March 10.

Late on March 14, the airline announced on social media that its operations had returned to normal. "We are committed to service for our passengers and are proud to have returned to normal operations across our network. Travellers can be assured Flair Airlines will continue to fly its schedule, and book new travel with confidence."

An earlier company statement said Flair would use "additional fleet capacity" to lessen the impact on passengers, adding it did not foresee any major disruptions to its route map. Spokesman Mike Arnot confirmed to the newspaper that the lessor involved was Airborne Capital. He said several flights were cancelled on March 11, but the company had three spare aircraft to backfill those flights. He said passengers would either be accommodated on Flair flights or another airline at Flair's expense. Passengers could also rebook and receive reimbursement within seven days.

A person familiar with the matter but who was not authorized to speak publicly about it said the payments for the affected aircraft were only a few days behind, and the amount owed was small relative to Flair's overall revenue.

Neither Flair nor the lessor immediately responded to a request for comment from ch-aviation.

Flair said the airline had been involved in "ongoing communications" with the leasing company, and "payment has been initiated." "Flair Airlines will continue to engage in a consensual mediation with the lessor to remedy the situation," the statement said.

Flair Airlines launched in 2004 as a charter airline and began offering regularly scheduled service in 2018. The ultra-low-cost airline announced in September it planned to become Canada's third-largest domestic airline by this summer and would expand its fleet to 30 aircraft by the end of 2023, serving 70 routes.

At a media briefing on March 7, Chief Executive Officer Stephen Jones told ch-aviation the airline had reduced the number of B737-8s to be delivered this year from eight to six, totalling twentyfive B737-8s, reflecting both its view of the market and aircraft and pilot availability. Flair previously expected delivery of eight more B737-8 MAX in the spring/summer of 2023 from early March to mid-June 2023. Jones said the airline still had an overall goal of getting to 50 aircraft by 2025.

The airline last year faced a protracted battle with Canadian regulators over whether its relationship with US lessor and minority shareholder 777 Partners violated rules restricting foreign entities to no more than 49% ownership of a Canadian airline. The dispute ended when the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled the airline was Canadian and could keep its licence, following Flair's moves to rejig the composition of its board to ensure at least half the directors are Canadian and to end any unique shareholder rights by the investor.