Sunwing cancels southbound flights due to coronavirus but will fly Canadians home
Following some frustration from customers on the way Sunwing handled the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline has decided to cancel all outgoing flights and instead focus on flying Canadians home from destinations abroad.
Sunwing Airlines announced that all southbound flights will be cancelled starting today, March 17, until April 9.
The airline says they currently have about 100,000 customers in destination, and they're working to bring the first 500 people home on four flights that departed this morning from Toronto and Montreal.
As part of our ongoing efforts to protect our employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be suspending all southbound flights from March 17th – April 9th. Read more: https://t.co/Y3kloy2ATr pic.twitter.com/JOnEd7LZhr— Sunwing Vacations (@SunwingVacay) March 17, 2020
They'll fly Canadians home from countries that have announced imminent closures of their borders, including Honduras, Aruba and Panama.
"Sunwing is working closely with the governments of all our destinations, in collaboration with Canadian government authorities, to continue repatriation flights in the coming days," reads a statement from the airline.
All customers who have a flight booked with Sunwing between March 17 and April 9 will be eligible for a full cash refund or future travel credit, while customers who opt for the latter can receive an additional $100 per person to use towards a future booking.
"The health and well-being of our customers and our employees is our highest priority and we are working around the clock to keep them safe," said President and CEO of Sunwing Travel Group Stephen Hunter, in a statement.
"It’s important that we do our part to contain the spread of COVID-19, while assuring our customers and their families that we are fully committed to bring each and every one of them home to Canada."
Today, PM @JustinTrudeau made a declaration to Canadians abroad that it is time to come home. Based on this, we will be suspending our commercial operations for all international and transborder flights on Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT. Read more - https://t.co/dJtNHeij8V pic.twitter.com/iCUpI0hDCP— WestJet (@WestJet) March 17, 2020
The airline announced that they'll be suspending all scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for a 30 day period, starting March 22 at 11:59 p.m.
They'll also suspend all outbound international ticket sales on March 18 at 11:59 p.m. to instead focus on bringing Canadians home.
"To assist Canadians in returning home on short notice, we are in the process of lowering prices on our remaining seats into Canada in all cabins," reads a letter from WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims.
"In addition, we will also reduce our domestic schedule by approximately 50 per cent. At this point, all network changes are in place for the next 30 days. "
In addition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement yesterday that all Canadians currently abroad should come home while they still can, Trudeau also announced that Canada will close its borders to most international travellers in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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