Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday January 13, 2023
Sunwing has received 7,000 complaints about holiday travel disruptions
Sunwing Airlines has received 7,000 complaints so far from customers unhappy with the airline’s performance during a turbulent holiday travel season that saw many customers stranded abroad.
Sunwing executives told MPs on the House of Commons standing committee on transport, infrastructure and communities Thursday that the airline cancelled 67 flights between December 15 and 31, in part because of staff shortages. Sunwing president Len Corrado said the airline struggled after the federal government declined its request to hire 63 pilots as temporary foreign workers.
Members of Parliament are questioning airline executives and airport authorities on Thursday about the travel chaos that erupted during the holidays.
Hundreds of air passengers were stranded over the holiday season after airlines cancelled or delayed flights, largely due to a major storm that hit much of Canada around Christmas.
Even though the House of Commons isn’t sitting right now, MPs on the transport committee met Monday and unanimously supported calling witnesses to discuss the travel debacle.
Executives from WestJet and Air Canada also testified.
Sunwing, a smaller airline that offers flights to warm southern destinations, faced the brunt of MPs’ questions Thursday. (CBC)
Then there was this under-reported tale from last month under the headline, “Swoop flight to New Brunswick flies back to Hamilton without stopping at destination”
People who were on a Swoop Airlines plane are telling CHCH News of a flight to New Brunswick that ended up back where it started, leaving a lot of angry passengers.
First passengers got messages from the airline saying the flight was delayed. Then after taking off three hours later than scheduled, they flew to Moncton but didn’t land, the plane turned around and flew back to Hamilton.
Swoop sent out a series of notifications, first blaming “operational delays,” then saying it was “due to weather,” then “delayed due to customs and immigration,” even though Hamilton and Moncton are both in Canada.
A passenger on the Swoop flight Justin Forshaw says, “they then said there was going to be people at Hamilton to receive you, give you travel vouchers, transport to a hotel. There was nobody there.”
The passengers say when they got back to Hamilton airport they were abandoned. There was nobody from Swoop to help them.
Passengers say the flight attendants said there would be a new flight to Moncton within 24 hours but they still haven’t heard anything. Passengers CHCH News spoke with are doubtful about receiving refunds from Swoop.
CHCH News requested an on-camera interview with Swoop, and they responded with a statement saying the airline blames the cancellation on the weather. It doesn’t explain why passengers were given those other reasons for the delays and cancellations, or why there was no one to meet them at the airport. As for refunds, it says it’s “working through reimbursements.” (CHCH)