Operators Scramble To Get Cayo Largo Passengers Home

A damaged runway has forced the temporary closure of Cayo Largo airport in Cuba and has several Canadian tour operators scrambling to get passengers home.

Both Transat and Sunwing have clients on the island and are finding alternative ways to get them home.

“Due to the damaged runway at Cayo Largo airport, we had to work with the Cuban authorities to put in place a plan to bring our clients home,” Transat’s Marie-Christine Pouliot told PressToday. “[On Feb. 19] 160 passengers were transferred to the city of Batabanó on board a ferry that can accommodate up to 300 passengers. From Batabanó, a coach took them to the Havana airport. A Transat representative accompanied them throughout the journey. Passengers returned to Canada, to Toronto specifically, last night.”

She added that two other groups currently on vacation at Cayo Largo will get back home as planned by the end of the week.

“These vacationers are not in a precarious situation, they are currently enjoying their stay and will return to Canada in the same way as the passengers who left yesterday,” said Pouliot. “One hundred and eighty-six passengers will return to Montreal on Friday, and 58 to Toronto this weekend.”

She added operations to the island are suspended until the airport reopens. Passengers affected have been notified and have the option to cancel their reservation and get a full refund, change their travel dates at no additional charge or change their destination at the system price.

Sunwing officials and their team at destination are also working to find suitable charter boats for the repatriation of guests.

Sunwing told PressToday, “following the unexpected closure of Cayo Largo airport, our destination team worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism to make the necessary arrangements so that our customers will return to Canada tomorrow as planned. Cayo Largo is a remote destination in Cuba, normally accessible via air, and so it was necessary to source a suitable boat charter. Customers are being transported by catamaran and onwards by bus to Varadero, where they are being accommodated in an all-inclusive resort ahead of their return flight (as required).

“All customers that are booked on this coming Friday’s southbound flights to Cayo Largo have been contacted so that we can advise them of their travel options. Customers have been given the option to be rebooked on an equivalent vacation package departing on the same date to Cayo Coco at no additional charge, change their booking to another destination with no amendment fees (the customer would be responsible for paying any price difference) or cancel for a full refund.”

It’s estimated that the airport will reopen on Feb. 26. Canadians planning to travel to Cayo Largo are advised to confirm travel plans with their tour company before leaving.

Travellers needing assistance can call +53-7204-2516 or +53-7204-2517.