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TORONTO — Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge have resumed all scheduled service to the Caribbean including Havana, however other destinations in Cuba remain cancelled with plans to resume services to Holguin and Varadero in the coming days, says Air Canada, subject to the safety and security of airports and infrastructure.
Meanwhile Air Canada says preparations are underway to resume flights to Florida airports on Sept. 13. The airline says further updates will be provided as airports re-open and ground and airport services prepare to resume operations.
“We are working closely with our airport and ground service partners and are committed to getting our customers on their way as soon as possible by adding capacity, including operating extra flights and larger aircraft, once it is safe to do so.”
Air Canada adds that, “when operations begin to resume, we will provide updates on revised schedules including additional capacity as it becomes available.”
Since Sept. 5 Air Canada has operated a total of 30 additional flights, as well as larger aircraft with more seats, to bring over 7,000 customers home early from the affected areas including Antigua, Cuba, Turks and Caicos, Haiti, D.R. and Florida.
Sunwing services into Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will operate as normal starting Sept. 15. All cruise itineraries will also operate as previously scheduled, notes the tour operator.
Fort Lauderdale’s airport re-opened this morning at 4 a.m. EDT, however many flights are still cancelled as airlines slowly resume operations into the city.
The Miami International Airport said in a tweet that it will resume operations on a limited basis today.
VISIT FLORIDA says it remains in contact with all destination marketing partners and emergency contacts. A ‘Weather Alert’ notification on the homepage banner at visitflorida.com includes a link to Current Travel Safety Information for the state, post-Irma.
In Cuba, reports are just now starting to filter out from the island. In the Ottawa Citizen, a CARE Canada aid worker based in Havana during Hurricane Irma says it will be months or even years before the island recovers. “The coastal communities were devastated by the winds. Houses have lost their roofs. Trees are down. The electricity is off, just about everywhere. There are some communities that even today are under feet of water,” says Richard Paterson.
According to the Ottawa Citizen report, Cuba’s state television is advising severe damage to hotels on the northern keys near Ciego de Avila and Camaguey provinces.
Havana is in recovery mode, with crews cleaning away thousands of fallen trees and electricity restored to a handful of neighbourhoods.
Cuban President Raul Castro acknowledged destruction in the northern keys, home to dozens of all-inclusive resorts. The Jardines del Rey airport serving the northern keys was destroyed, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported, tweeting photos of a shattered terminal hall littered with debris.
“The storm hit some of our principal tourist destinations but the damage will be repaired before the high season,” starting in November, said Castro.
Varadero airport remains closed but is expected to reopen briefly today for rescue flights including Sunwing flights. Sunwing says it plans to send flights to bring home its remaining passengers. Sunwing’s flights to Manzanillo will operate as normal today.
All of Sunwing’s southbound flights to Varadero and Holguin have been cancelled up to including Sept. 14. Flights to Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria and Camaguey will be suspended until Oct. 31.
As previously noted Sunwing has also advised that all Sunwing flights from Toronto to St. Maarten are cancelled until Oct. 26, and from Montreal to St. Maarten are cancelled until Nov. 9.
WestJet’s most recent rescue flight was to St. Maarten, bringing home a planeload of passengers yesterday. WestJet outlines its Hurricane Irma updates at its blog (blog.westjet.com/westjet-hurricane-irma-update/).
Transat has updated the scope of its hurricane policy, now applicable for flights scheduled for Florida (Fort Lauderdale) and Cuba (Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara, Holguin) until Sept.16.
For the latest update from CTO on all the Caribbean islands, with the exception of Cuba where reports are still very preliminary, see yesterday’s report, ‘What’s open, closed & damaged in the Caribbean’.