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Old Posted Oct 23, 2021, 2:54 PM
thistleclub thistleclub is offline
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Swoop sold flights from Hamilton to sunny destinations — even though it isn’t allowed to fly them
(Hamilton Spectator, Sebastian Bron, Oct 23 2021)

Swoop cancelled 40 tropic-bound flights this month due to federal travel restrictions at Hamilton’s international airport — but only after the low-cost carrier sold tickets to unwitting customers.

The flights — to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — were available to book as early as June, when the airline announced a fleet of departures to sunny destinations set to start taking off in October.

Commercial flights between John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport and the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America, have been grounded by the federal government since at least February 2021.

Swoop said in a statement all impacted travellers were provided with options for “reaccommodation,” including refunds, flights out of Toronto or flights out of Hamilton at a later date.

“A relatively small number of travellers (were) impacted,” said spokesperson Denise Kenny. Swoop, however, would not specify how many…

The Canadian Transport Agency said it has received 131 complaints, including 20 from Hamilton, related to Swoop since Aug. 1. A spokesperson said “it does not appear” any of them relate to this flight-cancellation issue.

The low-fare carrier isn’t the only airline to offer international passenger flights out of airports without federal clearance.

This week, Sunwing told London passengers who booked December flights to sunny spots to rebook their trips, while Flair sold tickets to Florida from Waterloo that it couldn’t guarantee.

The abrupt cancellations come as airlines across the country plea with the government to clear a travel advisory primarily affecting smaller, regional airports, including Hamilton. At present, international commercial flights are only permitted at nine major Canadian airports.

“We have done everything that we can do to modify this facility to demonstrate we are safe,” John C. Munro president and CEO Cathie Puckering said at an Oct. 4 roundtable discussion. “We are in a ready-state to serve our local community … We cannot lose any more time.”

As of Friday, Swoop — which hired 33 new Hamilton-based flight attendants last month in anticipation of the advisory being lifted — was still selling flights to sun-drenched locales, including Mexico in December and Jamaica in January.

“Swoop’s schedules are built many months in advance,” said spokesperson Kenny, who later added: “We remain optimistic that the federal government will extend its list of approved airports to receive international travellers to include Hamilton.”

The discount carrier said it will provide passengers with advance notice should it be required to postpone service again.

Read it in full here.
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