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TekSavvy asks CRTC to review Roger’s deal to sell Freedom to Videotron – BNN Bloomberg

Lindsay May always wanted a destination wedding.

She and her fiancé originally planned it for February 2022, but postponed it to January this year due to the pandemic.

“I got my pedicure and had my hair and dress ready to go, but four days before we were due to leave on Jan. 2, 2023, I found out through social media that Sunwing had canceled absolutely everything from Regina,” she said.

“I went through the seven stages of grief in one day and had a few panic attacks, but we rebooked our flight to March 13.”

On Tuesday, the Regina couple learned that Sunwing had it canceled their flight again from Regina.

“Why did you even allow us to rebook and give us hope?” she asked.

Lindsay May says it’s her and her fiancé’s fourth time rebooking their destination wedding in Mexico after the first pandemic and then Sunwing disrupted their plans. (Submitted by Lindsay May)

Now she and her guests are trying to rebook for the fourth time, this time through WestJet, as the $16,000 she paid for a wedding at a resort in Mexico is non-refundable.

“What I really want from Sunwing is that they compensate the time and effort of everyone going through this,” she said.

“Sunwing has completely lost my faith in them. I’ve never had a problem with it before, but I’ll never fly it again. I certainly don’t see anyone in Saskatchewan who still has faith in them.”

Sunwing cancellations overwhelming for potential travelers

Regina’s Lindsay May had her destination wedding canceled by Sunwing Travel and it turned into an emotional rollercoaster.

May was offered an alternative to fly out of Saskatoon when her March 13 flight was canceled, but she opted out. That was a wise decision, because the Saskatoon airport confirmed it on Wednesday Sunwing would cancel half of its flights from Saskatoon for the remainder of the winter season.

A man and a woman with glasses and their two children with glasses, a boy and a girl, stand in a kitchen room.
Lisa Adams-Krahenbil says she is frustrated that Sunwing canceled their flight from Regina to Cuba and that they now have to incur additional costs to fly out of Winnipeg. (Submitted by Lisa Adams-Krahenbil)

Lisa Adams-Krahenbil was ready to go to Cuba with her kids after the pandemic delayed previous plans, but the Sunwing flight from Regina was canceled a day before their departure.

“I don’t understand why they have to cancel now. Sunwing is the only flight [from Regina] flying direct to Cuba,” she said, noting that they now fly out of Winnipeg.

“It was upsetting and frustrating. It is unfair that Saskatchewan is being cancelled. It should have been our children’s first air travel and warm weather holiday.

The family had been saving for the trip, but now a large portion of the money will go toward travel to Winnipeg and accommodation there before and after the trip, she said.

“I still have my doubts whether I will reach Cuba on January 27. I know that traveling is not the best thing at the moment, but we have paid for our hot holiday and we will go.”

CBC contacted Sunwing several times on Wednesday for an interview. It awarded none, but confirmed the cancellations.

An image of a graph showing that more Canadians blame the weather and airlines for the recent travel chaos than the government.
New data from the Angus Reid Institute shows that Canadians are just as likely to blame the weather (70 percent) as the airlines and rail companies (68 percent) for the holiday travel chaos. One in three (33 percent) points the finger at the federal government. (Angus Reid Institute)

A recent Angus Reid Institute survey found that almost as many Canadian respondents blamed the airlines and rail companies (68 percent) for the holiday travel chaos as the weather (70 percent).

One in three also pointed the finger at the federal government.

The survey also found that respondents strongly desire more government regulation to protect consumers from cancellations.

The poll surveyed 1,611 Canadians and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Rescheduled Sunwing flights are causing problems for travelers

Travel agent Suzanne Pelzer says Regina travelers who have moved to other cities will face a different set of problems.

“Because of all the disruptions in six months, the U.S. is considering re-regulating the company, but I’m not hearing a similar voice from Canada,” said John Gradek, an aviation expert and lecturer in the aviation management program at McGill University.

“It’s a failure of Sunwing to understand that their schedule was a little too aggressive or too optimistic.”

Gradek said the Canadian government is silent.

In a written statement Wednesday, the Transport Secretary’s office said airlines are private entities that determine their own flight frequency and destinations, and “not under government direction.”

“With regard to WestJet’s proposed acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines, the Secretary determined that the transaction involved public interest considerations related to national transportation,” the statement said.

“The Secretary takes this matter very seriously and will ensure that all public interest considerations raised are considered and studied before making a recommendation to the Governor on Council on the proposed purchase.”

Sunwing’s future is uncertain: experts

Gradek said Sunwing is now “thinning out its schedule” and pulling out of Saskatchewan to have a “half decent chance” of allowing other destination flights to continue.

He said the airline assumed it would be able to bring in 64 foreign pilots as in previous years, but “the Canadian government would not allow those permits to be issued.”

“[Sunwing] promised much more than they could. It appears that Saskatchewan was not profitable for Sunwing,” he said.

A bald man with glasses in a suit stands smiling.
John Gradek, a lecturer in aviation management at McGill University, says that while the US is considering re-regulating the airline industry after the recent disruptions, he is not hearing any similar sound or momentum from Canada. (McGill University)

The airline said a week ago it had received 7,000 complaints related to the 2022 holiday season. a class action lawsuit against the airline have started brewing. Gradek said Sunwing’s reputation has been tarnished and loyal customers are declining.

“His over-ambitious holiday schedule that causes a lot of animosity, and the loss of brand value in the Canadian market as a result of his actions, will ultimately make them pay a price,” he said.

“There is no way Sunwing can escape a loss of market share and value.”

Gradek said the airline still has 15 days to address its passengers’ compensation issues before they can go to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

“But then those passengers join the other 33,000 Canadians already standing before the CTA with complaints that they are not being compensated by the industry. It is a mess made by the industry.”

Sunwing says it received 7,000 complaints during the chaotic holiday season

Sunwing official Andrew Dawson confirms the airline has received 7,000 complaints related to the 2022 holiday season.

Calgary-based independent aviation analyst Rick Erickson said Sunwing’s decision-making has left him speechless.

“Sunwing has been profitable in the Saskatchewan market for several years and it doesn’t make sense to abruptly cancel services there,” he said.

Unlike in the US, where airlines received $25 billion in “direct subsidies,” Erickson said “there were no subsidies” in Canada, but airlines such as Sunwing and Air Canada took short-term loans.

He said Sunwing’s future is “uncertain” as WestJet wants to buy the airline — hoping to tap into that Eastern Canadian market and Sunwing’s resorts — but that decision may not materialize until the summer.

Erickson said other airlines, such as Flair Airlines, are also trying to fill in the routes abandoned by Air Canada and Sunwing in Saskatchewan.

“Sunwing has come a long way uphill to be the airline it was. It would be a shame to lose Sunwing,” said Gradek.

“Unless something happens that significantly changes Sunwing’s behavior and way of doing business, the sun may go down on Sunwing.”

Blue sky48:42The future of flying in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan may be known as the land of the living skies, but it’s also known as a fly over the province by outsiders. Airlines have been doing that lately by canceling flights to and from our province. Today on the show we talked about the impact this has on business and leisure here in the county. We heard from Jason Aebig CEO of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, Rick Erickson, an aviation analyst who is as baffled as anyone, and Justin Reeves of the Regina Airport Authority. We also heard from listeners whose lives have been impacted by these changes.

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