Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
MONTREAL — Air Canada flight AC1815 departed Port-au-Prince, Haiti with 209 customers and 16 crew and support employees onboard a Boeing 767-300ER Air Canada Rouge aircraft yesterday.
Craig Landry, Executive Vice President, Operations at Air Canada, thanked Air Canada employees for their round-the-clock efforts to make the flight a success, “including their diligent efforts in challenging circumstances to reach out to Air Canada’s as well as other airlines’ customers seeking to return to Canada.”
Landry added: “Our thoughts are with the Haitian people during this period of disturbance. Given the strong ties between our two countries, Air Canada has a long, proud history of serving Haiti and we intend to resume regular service as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Air Canada normally operates two flights weekly between Montreal and Port-au-Prince on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Following the Government of Canada’s advisory to avoid all travel to Haiti, Air Canada’s next scheduled flight (Wed. Feb. 20) to Haiti is cancelled.
Air Canada says it is monitoring this situation closely to determine when it will be safe to resume flights.
Meanwhile Transat repatriated its 113 travellers on Feb. 16, from the Royal Decameron Indigo Beach Resort & Spa.
Late afternoon on Feb. 15, Transat travellers were informed that they would be leaving the Royal Decameron, located on the Côte des Arcadins, by helicopter the following day. At around 9 a.m. on Feb. 16, the first passengers were transported to the airport, and rotations continued for a few hours. The evacuation was orchestrated by Transat, in collaboration with the local authorities, the Canadian Embassy in Haiti and the Canadian government, to ensure the safety of the passengers.
“Our clients, as well as their loved ones, have experienced a trying week, under a lot of uncertainty,” says Annick Guérard, Chief Operating Officer at Transat, who was on site in Port-au-Prince to accompany the travellers back home with Jean-François Lemay, President of Air Transat. “Since the rise of tensions in Haiti about a week ago, our teams have been mobilized and working hard to return our clients home safely, and as quickly as possible. In Haiti, Transat’s representative also remained at the hotel 24/7 throughout the week to keep our passengers informed of the situation as it unfolded. We are relieved that these travellers are on their way to Canada, but we remain concerned about the current difficult situation in Haiti.”
Given the uncertain accessibility of the road leading to Royal Decameron, Transat says it cannot guarantee safe transfers and has therefore stopped the sale of vacation packages, until the end of April 2019.
Transat adds that until the Canadian government reduces its alert level, all customers who have booked a flight to Haiti for the months of February, March and April 2019 are entitled to modify their reservation without penalty.
Transat is asking customers to contact their travel agency or Air Transat’s Contact Center to adjust their file.
Air Transat says it will continue to operate two flights a week to and from Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, on Wednesdays and Sundays, “however the situation may change at any moment and without notice.”