As bailiffs seize jets from Canadian airline, Boeing order in the balance
Published in Business News
In the early morning Canadian cold on March 11, the beginning of spring break for school-age kids in Ontario, families duly assembled at the Region of Waterloo International Airport west of Toronto to fly on Flair Airlines to the sun in Orlando, Florida.
But more than three hours before the 7:20 a.m. flight — “in the dark of night,” as Flair CEO Stephen Jones later expressed it — bailiffs arrived at the airport to take ownership of the airplane, a Boeing 737 Max.
As the sun rose, two police vehicles drove out onto the tarmac and parked alongside the jet. Officers got out and inspected documents citing nonpayment of the airplane lease.
The paperwork in order, the bailiffs seized the airplane and the flight was abruptly canceled. Families were left stranded, and with no alternative flight from Flair that morning, scrambling to find another way to get to Orlando.
The repossession of scheduled airliners for nonpayment of monthly rental charges is rare in North America. Behind this incident is a new business model for buying jets created by Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners that Boeing enthusiastically embraced. Lately, it’s not going smoothly.
The Miami firm has unfilled firm orders pending for 34 Maxes. But in the final months of 2022, the firm couldn’t take 11 Maxes it had scheduled for delivery, and Boeing scrambled to find other lessors who took the planes.
That and the crisis at Flair, in which 777 Partners has a 25% ownership stake, has raised doubts about the Miami firm’s future Max deliveries.
At the Farnborough Air Show in July, 777 Partners co-founder Josh Wander announced a big deal to buy 66 additional Maxes. The agreement was never finalized and those 66 planes are not in Boeing’s order book.
The immediate question, one which both Boeing and 777 Partners declined to answer on the record, is whether the Miami financier team will even take all the remaining jets on firm order.
Jet repo time
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