Federal govt.’s approval of proposed WestJet-Sunwing deal could come as early as today: report

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

TORONTO — ACTA says it’s “incredibly disappointed” by Sunwing’s statement on recalled commissions.

ACTA’s response to Sunwing’s statement, issued yesterday in response to ACTA’s repeated requests for the company’s position, makes it clear ACTA is not giving up on holding Sunwing accountable for the commission recalls.

From late December through early January, Sunwing announced cancellations impacting passengers and travel agents in Regina, Saskatoon, Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton, North Bay and Sudbury, and Winnipeg. Travel agents as well as ACTA voiced their concerns, frustration and anger over Sunwing’s commission recalls for the cancelled flights.

Sunwing says the policy is in line with normal procedures and industry standards.

In its statement Sunwing also apologized to agents. “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 has increased 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.

Sunwing’s statement can be read in full here.


Immediately following the release of Sunwing’s position yesterday, ACTA sent out a statement of its own.

“ACTA is incredibly disappointed in Sunwing’s decision not to protect commission on cancelled programs in Saskatchewan, Atlantic Canada, Northern Ontario, and other areas across Canada. Sunwing advised ACTA today in a written statement in response to repeated calls for a statement on its intentions,” said the association.

ACTA is also calling on Sunwing to make changes to its communications protocol, so that travel agents aren’t the last to know about flight cancellations.

ACTA President Wendy Paradis notes that ACTA members have consistently expressed their concern that Sunwing’s communication practices have considerably impacted customer relationships and the ability for travel agents to manage schedule changes and cancellations for their mutual customers. In many cases, she says, customers were advised before travel agents of cancellations.

“ACTA continues to call on Sunwing to do the right thing and protect commission and urges for immediate improvements to its agent communications to ensure clear, consistent, and timely sharing of information so that travel agents are aware of changes before, or not later than, their clients,” says Paradis.

“Travel agents are a crucial support to suppliers and have invested significant resources in planning and rescheduling and cancelling travel due to Sunwing’s decision and are now being told they will not be compensated for their work,” she added.


Travel advisors in cities impacted by Sunwing’s cancellations and recalled commissions had a lot to say on the matter.

Kim Hartlen, owner, Kim Hartlen Travel-TPI, Halifax, NS, says clients are asking her to price other airlines and clients booking new vacations are hesitant to book Sunwing, for fear of new cancellations. The 10% commission incentive won’t help, she adds. “Very disappointed with not protecting our commissions, and they need to remember that they need us. They need to protect our commissions so we can stand by them. Sunwing you can do better!!” says Hartlen.

In Saskatoon, Jamie Milton, co-owner and President of Uniglobe Carefree Travel Group, notes that Sunwing has cancelled nearly all travel from the province of Saskatchewan for the months of January, February and March. “They are recalling all of the commission on these cancelled files, which we anticipate will amount to nearly $100,000 in recalled commission for our agency alone. At the same time, they are offering 10% commission on new bookings over the next month, but we have nothing left to sell. Most flights are cancelled, many others are sold out, and what’s left, consumers and advisors do not want to sell and have no confidence in.”

Says Milton: “These tens of thousands of bonus commissions will go to agents and agencies in other provinces, who have product left to sell and who have not been impacted. It will absolutely not help those agencies and advisors who have been devastated by their cancellations.”

Milton says Sunwing’s decision “obviously did not come from consultation with the industry or ACTA … [and] it will not help the ICs who are struggling to pay their mortgages when they are losing thousands from their own pockets. It is regrettable and I believe that Sunwing will come to regret not doing what is right by their industry partners. What’s right is right, even if no one is doing it and what’s wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.  Calling it an ‘industry standard’ doesn’t make it OK.  Cancelling an entire season at the last minute after the work has been done is not ‘industry standard’.”

Milton adds that agents will continue fighting until all options have been exhausted. “When the travel trade IS Sunwing’s workforce, this is a short sighted decision,” she says.

Meanwhile Fareconnect Travel, based in Winnipeg, has more than 300 ICs across Canada, “and many of the Saskatchewan agents have lost almost a year of income, which they will never forget after this happening. Where can you pick up from here?” says Fareconnect COO Cindy Gaudet.

Gaudet adds: “Offering extra commission is not something agents want to hear. Agents feel [it’s] just another marketing [move] for Sunwing. Within our company we have over 100 groups booked in the west, so that will tell you the impact on us was high. The ICs have turned to other suppliers to secure clients’ vacations. I truly hope the confidence comes back but more so for the customers.”

With file from Cindy Sosroutomo

Get travel news right to your inbox!