sunwing coronavirus

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. 

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."

WestJet Airlines also announced a similar initiative last night following the Prime Minister's call for all Canadians abroad to come home.

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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