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Sunwing continues to closely monitor Hurricane Irma and remains in regular contact with local representatives in affected destinations regarding the potential impact of the storm. Since Sept. 1, the company has sent close to 30 flights to repatriate customers from destinations under hurricane watch or warning. Local representatives have been working diligently to keep in regular contact with customers vacationing in these destinations and assisting them with making the necessary changes to their travel arrangements.
Unfortunately, the evacuation plan in Cuba was especially complex as Sunwing had more customers in Cuba than every other Canadian airline combined, as Hurricane Irma’s projected path evolved. As a result of the volume of passengers, unexpected airport closures, and the complexity of moving people via land to remaining departure points, the effort has been challenging. However, we are working in cooperation with local officials to return them home safely as soon as the Varadero airport reopens. Our local representatives have been in contact with all hotels in Varadero where our customers are staying and they have informed us that they are safe.
Sunwing Airlines also sent a team of five from Global Medic down to St Maarten this morning along with 1,000 kilos of humanitarian aid. The flight is picking up stranded international tourists including Canadians, American, and Europeans. Sunwing evacuated its customers last Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Irma, but sent down flights over the weekend to move stranded tourists from St Maarten to Punta Cana, before carrying on to pick up Sunwing customers in other destinations and return them to Canada. This rescue effort has been done in cooperation with local authorities and our hotel partners.
Here follows a summary of the latest special flight arrangements:
Dominican Republic – The hurricane warning has been lifted. Services to both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana will operate as scheduled.
Cuba – Special flights were arranged on Saturday for evacuated customers that were transferred by land from Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria on Friday. These customers returned on flights from Varadero Saturday morning and Havana in the afternoon after the Varadero airport closed. Additional flights also operated Saturday to bring home passengers that were vacationing in Varadero. All southbound flights to Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Camaguey and Varadero have been cancelled up to Sept. 14. Flexible policies are in place for customers to rebook or change destination.
The Islands of the Bahamas – The southbound flight to Freeport, Grand Bahama scheduled to operate Sept. 9 was cancelled. A special flight operated Sept. 7 to bring customers in destination home early.
Florida – Southbound flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale due to operate Sept. 9 were cancelled. A special rescue flight was added Sept. 8, to bring customers home early from both destinations, including passengers on MSC Divina that docked earlier than scheduled in Miami on September 7th to avoid the hurricane.
All updates to our flying programs, as well as options for affected customers are being posted under the hurricane alerts link as they become available. These dates and options will evolve as Sunwing has the opportunity to assess the hurricane’s impact on destination operations in conjunction with our local team and officials.