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

Sunwing Travel Group CEO and Sunwing Airlines president issue apology

TORONTO — Sunwing has issued a statement that includes an apology for severe disruptions in operations over the holiday break.

As reported yesterday, the chair of the House of Commons transport committee on Tuesday called for Sunwing Airlines to publicly explain what caused travel chaos for thousands of Canadians over the holidays.

Liberal member of Parliament Peter Schiefke said in a tweet that he plans to convene a committee meeting and call for representatives from both companies to appear as witnesses. Schiefke said Canadians deserve answers for “unacceptable delays and cancellations” over the holiday season.

“It will be an important discussion,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra tweeted afterwards. “Canadians deserve answers.”

Sunwing’s cancellations and operational challenges stemmed not just from the winter weather over the holiday break, but also its decision to cancel its winter sun flights out of Saskatoon and Regina through Feb. 3. Both impacted travellers as well as travel advisors, many of whom worked around the clock through the holiday break helping clients.

 

“WE ARE INCREDIBLY SORRY FOR LETTING OUR CUSTOMERS DOWN”

Sunwing’s statement, issued today and signed by Stephen Hunter, CEO, Sunwing Travel Group and Len Corrado, President, Sunwing Airlines, reads as follows …

“Sunwing was founded on a promise to help make Canadians’ vacation dreams come true with affordable all inclusive getaways to dozens of highly rated vacation destinations. We are astutely aware that, for too many Canadians, we failed to live up to that promise this holiday season. We are incredibly sorry for letting our customers down.

“Like many Canadians, we dreamed this holiday would be a return to normal. We planned our highest travel schedule since pre-pandemic and invested significantly to mitigate the potential risks that would come with meeting the high demand for travel over our peak winter season.

“While most of our customers enjoyed their holidays with minimal disruption, we had clear failures in execution, particularly in responding to weather-related delays and the aftermath of severe weather disruptions, which limited our ability to reposition aircraft and crew to other airports to help alleviate the backlog in flights. Whereas several larger carriers faced similar issues in the spring and summer over their first peak travel season since the pandemic, we are facing those challenges and obstacles during our peak season this winter. As a carrier scaling up to meet our highest demand in years, we built an achievable plan which, due to a confluence of factors, we could no longer deliver, and we regret that we did not meet the level of service our customers expect from Sunwing.

“In response to the factors mentioned above, we took several measures to mitigate further delays for our customers during the holidays. This included subservicing aircraft from several airline partners to repatriate those in destination with significant delays. Our teams worked around the clock to return customers home, while providing customers in destination with hotel accommodations, food and beverage, and airport transfers, regardless of the reason for the delay.

“We have completed all recovery flights related to the holiday disruption and have a roadmap in place to ensure that these issues do not repeat themselves in January or any of the months that follow. This includes proactively working on a mitigation plan to address some technical issues with flight alert notifications and enhancing the communication flow to our customers in destination through the collaboration and support of our airline and destination management teams. We have also reduced some capacity during the month of January to ensure that we can execute to the highest standards with the least disruption to customers as we move through the winter season.

“We also understand our obligations under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations and will ensure full compliance with these regulations.

“We are actively accepting eligible claims for compensation. Customers may submit their claims for review at https://www.sunwing.ca/en/sunwing-airlines/delay-claim/. In addition, customers may submit receipts for related expenses incurred in destination to Sunwing Cares at
www.sunwing.ca/en/sunwing-cares for review. This includes submitting receipts for reasonable expenses to purchase necessities due to baggage delays stemming from a baggage belt issue at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which impacted select customers that travelled between December 24-27, 2022. We also continue to actively work to reunite customers who travelled during this period with their baggage in a timely fashion.

“We know that we cannot replace the time lost or disruption experienced during this holiday season, but we would like to reassure our customers that we are committed to doing better and regaining their trust in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to provide updates on this important work.

“Through our unwavering commitment to making vacation dreams come true, we hope to show Canadians what a Sunwing vacation truly feels like, and thank our customers for their patience and understanding as our teams worked tirelessly to overcome these operational hurdles in recent weeks.”