Cancelled Sunwing flights from 3 Maritime airports leave customers up in the air

A 2020 file photo shows a Sunwing Airlines jet prepare for takeoff at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A 2020 file photo shows a Sunwing Airlines jet prepare for takeoff at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Sunwing has reduced flights from three Maritime airports to some warm-weather destinations for the rest of the winter season, the latest in a series of quiet cancellations from the company.

Routes were cancelled out of Moncton, N.B., Fredericton and Halifax.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport confirmed Sunwing reduced routes affecting flights to Orlando, Fla., and two Cuban destinations — Cayo Largo Del Sur and Varadero.

Tuesday flights from Halifax to Cayo Largo del Sur will stop as of Feb. 14, while flights to Varadero — scheduled to operate twice weekly starting in February — have now been reduced to once a week.

Friday flights to Orlando will end as of Feb. 10.

"We expect Sunwing's other scheduled services at Halifax Stanfield to continue this winter season," the airport's communications department said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Sunwing cancelled flights from Winnipeg, Regina and Saskatoon, prompting criticism from consumer advocates and frustration from customers.

More cuts

Fredericton International Airport posted on social media that Sunwing cancelled flights from the airport to Cayo Coco, Cuba due to "operational constraints." Flights to Cancun, Punta Cana, and Cayo Santa Maria are operating as scheduled.

As for Moncton's airport, one of two weekly flights to Varadero has been cancelled.

Courtney Burns, president of the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, said the airport does not anticipate further flight cancellations from Sunwing for the rest of winter.

She said the industry is still trying to recover from the pandemic.

"We never like to see or hear of a cancellation," said Burns. "But ... airlines are still working through resources and aircraft availability, pilots, etcetera, and adjusting their network so that they can provide the service that passengers have come to expect and that they deserve."

Sunwing did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

These cancellations are unwelcome news for travellers who booked vacations months ago.

In September, Shauna Matheson organized a trip to Cuba for 15 people, including her family and three others. They were planning to fly from Halifax to Varadero on Mar. 9, but their flight was cancelled in mid-January.

Matheson said she heard the news from her travel agent, but she didn't receive a reason for the cancellation.

They asked for their money back, which was refunded by Sunwing within a week.

Matheson then tried to rebook a new vacation for March break, but there was no availability for a group of 15 given the short notice.

"It's just pure frustration. It all just leaves a bad taste in our mouth, you know?" Matheson told CBC's Maritime Noon on Friday.

"We just didn't feel safe with our money with Sunwing and we still don't," she said. "So, we won't be booking with Sunwing again."