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Canadian couple’s destination wedding disrupted twice by repeated Sunwing cancellations

By Jill Macyshon, CTV National News Manitoba Bureau Chief and Alexandra Mae Jones, writer

Click here for updates on this story

    REGINA (CTV Network) — For a Regina couple, saying yes was easy – but actually getting married is proving more difficult due to repeated issues with Sunwing.

Their dream destination wedding in Mexico was cancelled in early January when Sunwing halted their flights and rescheduled, only to cancel the new flights again this week.

For a bride-to-be who says she paid about $16,000 for a destination wedding that couldn’t be refunded, it was yet another round of sky-high stress and anxiety. Lindsay May, who had rescheduled the entire wedding for March after the first round of cancellations, told CTV News that she and her partner found out through social media about the new round of cancellations.

“At this point, I was just stunned, because why did you even let us rebook?” May said. “Why would you even offer this service?”

This couple is only one example of the customers left jilted by the airline company, which has now cancelled almost all of its winter flights from Regina, and half from Saskatoon.

“I can’t fathom anyone in Saskatchewan trusting Sunwing at this point,” May said. “After all, they’ve done it to Regina, and Saskatoon, and now I’m hearing in Winnipeg this is happening.”

She’s right. Sunwing cancelled weekly flights from Winnipeg to Los Cabos and Mazatlan starting Feb. 2.

It’s a continuation of chaos that has surrounded the airline this winter. With complaints piling up, there’s question about whether this company, losing customer confidence, can stay in the air.

In a statement, the company said, “the decision to reduce winter flight operations in Winnipeg from February onwards was deemed necessary due to operational and business constraints that would prevent us from delivering the standards of service our customers both expect and deserve when travelling with Sunwing.”

The company added that impacted customers can change their vacation destination at “current system rates” and are being offered a “$100 CAD future travel credit as a goodwill gesture.”

Sunwing flights from New Brunswick and Northern Ontario are also being scaled back and there may be more cuts to come, says one expert.

“I don’t think Sunwing’s done,” John Gradek, co-ordinator of the Aviation Management Program at McGill University, told CTV National News. “They’re trying to figure out how many airplanes can they in fact run and what kind of schedule they can in fact operate.”

Last week, Sunwing executives revealed the company had received 7,000 complaints stemming from the travel chaos in December. Weather delays were cited as the biggest problem.

But Sunwing also has a staffing issue. The company planned to bring in more than 60 foreign temporary pilots at a higher wage this winter to help deal with their staffing shortages, but backed away from the plan in early December after criticism from Unifor, the union which represents 16,000 members across Canada`s aviation sector.

“The brand has been hurt,” Gradek said. “Will this be the end of Sunwing? Probably not, because Canadians typically have a short memory. They like [good] prices, and Sunwing was the price leader.”

Some Canadians, such as May, aren’t going to forget that quickly

“I know myself and our guests will never book with them again,” she told CTV News.

May and her wedding party are finally set to depart for festivities in Cancun in March, but they’ll be travelling on a WestJet flight.

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