Sunwing Addresses Disruptions, Impact On Agents

In a statement sent to ACTA following a meeting with the Travel Agency Leaders Advisory Group yesterday (Jan. 25), Sunwing addressed the recent travel disruptions and impact on valued travel advisors, and the company’s plan moving forward for the winter season.

The tour company’s statement begins:

“At Sunwing, we have always remained steadfast in our purpose of making vacation dreams come true and travel advisors are integral to that process, helping our mutual customers choose from a wide variety of all-inclusive resorts located in a number of popular vacation destinations. We know the past three years have been challenging and we have navigated through each obstacle together. Of course, this past month has been particularly difficult for travel advisors, and we sincerely apologize for the disruptions.”

It continues:

“With the support of advisors, we planned our highest travel schedule since pre-pandemic for the holiday season. Unfortunately, we experienced travel disruptions brought on by a convergence of factors, including significant weather events across Canada in the lead-up to Christmas, which limited our ability to reposition aircraft and crew to other airports, resulting in flight delays for some customers and cancellations on specific routes.”

Sunwing notes that:

“While many customers were impacted over the peak holiday season, most of our customers enjoyed their holidays with minimal disruption. News stories have exaggerated the travel disruptions and overstated the extent of route cancellations. We would like to set the record straight, respond to the travel community’s concerns and address our plan for the duration of winter, all in an effort to regain the trust of our valued travel advisors and mutual customers.”

The operator says that:

“Entering the new year, we had 317 weekly flights scheduled for February and March, which was already below our originally planned level due to resource constraints. Since Jan. 1, 2023, we have proactively reduced capacity further in order to safeguard the integrity of our operations and will now operate 296 weekly round-trip flights.”

Its statement continues:

“Overall reductions made since Jan. 1 amount to 7% of capacity, and the majority of cancellations were on seasonal routes from cities where Sunwing Airlines does not have crew bases and has to position crews from other regions. We regret the impact to passengers on affected routes and have offered rebooking options from other gateways wherever possible. Those customers who would prefer not to travel are being fully refunded for cancelled bookings.”

On the issue of protecting commissions, Sunwing advises:

“We have received questions from advisors around commissions for cancelled bookings. In line with normal procedures and industry standards, we will not be protecting commissions for cancelled bookings and regret the inconvenience this has caused. However, we are pleased that many customers have chosen to rebook travel from alternate gateways through their advisors, and bookings remain strong for the months ahead.”

Its statement says that:

“As mentioned by Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing, during the recent Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, we are fully committed to finding ways to make advisors whole again. This includes increasing commission to 10% on Sunwing vacation packages booked between Jan. 19, 2023 and Feb. 20, 2023, for departure 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.”

Sunwing’s statement concludes:

“Once again, 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.”