TORONTO — After being requested by the federal government on Jan. 29, 2021 to halt all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean Jan. 31, 2021 – April 30, 2021, both Sunwing and Transat have unveiled their respective plans to accommodate impacted customers, which include the offer of refunds for.the designated time frame, Jan. 31, 2021 – April 30, 2021.
The flight cancellations, which apply to all four of Canada’s major airlines (Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Sunwing), went into effect yesterday and are meant to complement new travel rules that include the funnelling of all international flights through Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, mandatory PCR testing at these four airports, and costly hotel quarantines for all incoming passengers while they await their test results.
Immediately after the Jan. 29 announcement of these new measures by the federal government, Air Canada and WestJet issued a list of suspended destinations, with Air Canada confirming the offer of refunds for Jan. 31, 2021 – April 30, 2021 flights. WestJet had previously announced that it will be offering refunds in the wake of the pandemic.
Here are Sunwing’s and Transat’s official statements:
Sunwing is working to notify customers currently in destination about any changes to their existing flights and those with upcoming vacation bookings on the cancelled flight schedule. In addition, any customers with cancelled bookings will be provided a full refund to the original form of payment, for impacted flights in the Jan. 31, 2021 – April 30, 2021 timeframe.
“Further to the Government of Canada’s announcement, Sunwing, along with all other major Canadian airlines and tour operators, has made the decision to suspend flights to all sun destinations until April 30, 2021,” reads the statement. “This decision was not made lightly but something we deemed necessary as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is based on ongoing collaboration with the government and the Canadian aviation industry.”
Air Transat will be operating several dozen flights over the next two weeks to return its customers to Canada. Customers scheduled to return to the country between now and Feb. 13 will keep their original flight, while those whose flights are cancelled will automatically be redirected to another Air Transat flight.
Until April 30, customers who are unable to travel due to the cancellation of their flight will be refunded in the same method of payment they used for their booking, for impacted flights Jan. 31, 2021 – April 30, 2021.
“We will do everything we can to return our customers back to Canada,” said Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat. “We obviously share the government’s objective to protect Canadians from COVID-19, including the new variants, and this is what all of our personnel have been doing in recent months, particularly onboard our aircraft, with a comprehensive program of adapted sanitary measures.”
Transat is reiterating the importance for the federal government to implement the previously announced sector-specific financial assistance to support the industry and the investments it has made in recent years, not to mention the tens of thousands of workers in the sector who have lost their jobs. Transat notes that the airline industry is “highly competitive” and that international carriers from other countries have already benefitted from significant support measures from their governments since the beginning of the pandemic.
“This is creating a considerable imbalance that has hurt the competitiveness of Canada’s airlines for months and threatens their survival,” reads Transat’s statement. “Moreover, the entire Canadian economy will be deprived of the vital and strategic contribution of the airline and aeronautics industry when the recovery comes.”
Since the outset of the pandemic, Transat has implemented measures to safeguard its cash flow, including temporary layoffs affecting 75% of its staff. But according to the airline, the temporary shutdown of operations has resulted in further layoffs of flight crews and support staff.