Sunwing Airlines will no longer offer flights out of Sudbury or North Bay as of Feb. 1.
Greater Sudbury Airport, which issued a statement on the change, said the airline informed the airport this week of its decision to cancel their winter flight program in Sudbury and North Bay.
"The company cited operational and business constraints that would prevent them from delivering the standards of service their customers expect," the airport said.
The decision means weekly winter flights from Sudbury to the Dominican Republic are cancelled, Greater Sudbury Airport said in a news release.
Airport CEO Giovanna Verrilli said called the news "disappointing."
"We were quite excited by the return of Sunwing earlier this winter and are very disappointed by this unfortunate news," she said. "We trust Sunwing will do its very best to accommodate its passengers."
The news comes as Greater Sudbury Airport continues to rebound for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year (2022), the airport saw more than 100,000 passengers go through its gates, a figure the facility says represents around 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The airport expects to continue rebounding in 2023, projecting the passenger volume will hit between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of 2019 levels.
Chris Mayne, owner of Mayne Travel in North Bay, told BayToday that as of Jan. 10, both North Bay and Sudbury have been removed from the Sunwing website as departure options to Varadero, Cuba (out of North Bay) and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (out of Sudbury).
"As of Tuesday this week, we could see that there was no space to be booked from Sunwing from North Bay or Sudbury in the months of February, March or April to the southern destinations, so that certainly raised some flags about either a potential change, or that they were looking at cancelling the program," said Chris Mayne, who is also a member of North Bay city council.
"The final email came in on Wednesday afternoon. It was certainly very disappointing for a lot of people looking to leave from North Bay and Sudbury to avoid those crowds and additional costs leaving from Toronto. It is a little bit frustrating that the North Bay flight will still be departing from Kitchener, it is just the North Bay piece that they have cancelled."
The airline has been under scrutiny over the holidays as hundreds of passengers were affected by Sunwing flight disruptions, which began to pile up on Dec. 22 due to weather.
Sunwing media responded to the situation Thursday afternoon.
“Due to extenuating circumstances, we regret to inform our customers in Sudbury and North Bay that we are cancelling our winter program from both airports, effective February 1, 2023' Sunwing said in a statement.
"This impacts weekly flights from Sudbury to Punta Cana starting on February 1 and from North Bay to Varadero starting on February 2.
"Sunwing is offering impacted customers the ability to transfer their vacation package to same-day departures from Toronto along with a $100 CAD future travel credit as a goodwill gesture. Alternatively, customers can choose to cancel their vacations for a full refund to their original form of payment, if preferred.
"We sincerely apologize to our valued customers and airport partners in Sudbury and North Bay for the inconvenience and disruption. The difficult decision to cancel winter flights beginning in February was deemed necessary due to operational and business constraints that would prevent us from delivering the standards of service our customers expect when travelling with Sunwing."
Sunwing says customers can contact their local travel agent or the Sunwing Sales Centre at 1-877-786-9464 to change their departure gateway or initiate their cancellation.
-with files from Chris Dawson at BayToday.ca