vTravel advisors, ACTA react to Sunwing’s position on recalled commissions

Sunwing stands firm on recalled commissions for cancelled bookings: statement

TORONTO — Sunwing says it will not protect travel agent commissions for its recent cancellations.

In a new statement to travel advisor partners sent out this afternoon, Sunwing says the policy is line with normal procedures and industry standards.

Sunwing also apologizes to agents. “Once again, we apologize to travel advisors for the inconvenience and disruption over the holiday season. We recognize there is more work to be done in rebuilding your faith in us and will continue to provide updates on this important work. We are dedicated to regaining your trust in the weeks and months ahead.”

Sunwing says it will increase commission to 10% on Sunwing vacation packages booked Jan. 19 – Feb. 20, 2023, for departures up to May 31, 2023.

“This temporary increase amounts to tens of thousands of dollars in additional commission per week. We are also exploring other ways to support advisors in the months ahead, such as through bonus STAR point promotions for the upcoming summer, and will communicate additional trade programs and incentives as they are confirmed,” says the company.

Since late December through early January, Sunwing announced cancellations impacting passengers and travel agents in Regina, Saskatoon, Halifax, Moncton and Fredericton, North Bay and Sudbury, and Winnipeg. Travel agents as well as ACTA have voiced their concerns, frustration and anger.

SUNWING’S STATEMENT

Here is the statement in full, addressed to its valued travel advisors and sent to ACTA and the Travel Agency Leaders Advisory Group …

“At Sunwing, we have always remained steadfast in our purpose of making vacation dreams come true and travel advisors are integral to that process, helping our mutual customers choose from a wide variety of all inclusive resorts located in a number of popular vacation destinations.

“We know the past three years have been challenging and we have navigated through each obstacle together. Of course, this past month has been particularly difficult for travel advisors and we sincerely apologize for the disruptions.

“With the support of advisors, we planned our highest travel schedule since pre-pandemic for the holiday season. Unfortunately, we experienced travel disruptions brought on by a convergence of factors, including significant weather events across Canada in the lead-up to Christmas, which limited our ability to reposition aircraft and crew to other airports, resulting in flight delays for some customers and cancellations on specific routes.

“While many customers were impacted over the peak holiday season, most of our customers enjoyed their holidays with minimal disruption. News stories have exaggerated the travel disruptions and overstated the extent of route cancellations.

“We would like to set the record straight, respond to the travel community’s concerns and address our plan for the duration of winter, all in an effort to regain the trust of our valued travel advisors and mutual customers.

“Entering the new year, we had 317 weekly flights scheduled for February and March, which was already below our originally planned level due to resource constraints.

“Since January 1, 2023, we have proactively reduced capacity further in order to safeguard the integrity of our operations and will now operate 296 weekly round-trip flights.

“Overall reductions made since January 1st amount to 7% of capacity, and the majority of cancellations were on seasonal routes from cities where Sunwing Airlines does not have crew bases and has to position crews from other regions.

“We regret the impact to passengers on affected routes, and have offered rebooking options from other gateways wherever possible. Those customers who would prefer not to travel are being fully refunded for cancelled bookings.”

COMMISSION QUESTIONS

The statement continues: “We have received questions from advisors around commissions for cancelled bookings. In line with normal procedures and industry standards, we will not be protecting commissions for cancelled bookings and regret the inconvenience this has caused. However, we are pleased that many customers have chosen to rebook travel from alternate gateways through their advisors, and bookings remain strong for the months ahead.

“As mentioned by Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing, during the recent Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, we are fully committed to finding ways to make advisors whole again.

“This includes increasing commission to 10% on Sunwing vacation packages booked between January 19, 2023 and February 20, 2023, for departure up to May 31, 2023. This temporary increase amounts to tens of thousands of dollars in additional commission per week. We are also exploring other ways to support advisors in the months ahead, such as through bonus STAR point promotions for the upcoming summer, and will communicate additional trade programs and incentives as they are confirmed.

“Once again, we apologize to travel advisors for the inconvenience and disruption over the holiday season. We recognize there is more work to be done in rebuilding your faith in us and will continue to provide updates on this important work. We are dedicated to regaining your trust in the weeks and months ahead.”