Sunwing lays off staff and launches rescue flights to repatriate Canadians
TORONTO -- Sunwing Airlines Ltd. is offering vacant seats on its repatriation flights free of charge to any Canadians stranded in sun-kissed parts of the hemisphere, including to non-Sunwing customers.
"We understand a lot of Canadians are still stranded outside the country and struggling to get home," said Stephen Hunter, CEO of the airline's parent company.
"That's why we want to open up any extra capacity we have. It's the Canadian thing to do."
Sunwing aims to fly about 11,000 Canadians back to home soil on Thursday, bringing the total number of repatriated Sunwing passengers to more than 33,000.
Thousands of Canadians stuck overseas are continuing to try to a way back home as borders close and airlines cut flights in response to the spread of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Air Canada announced it will suspend most of its international and U.S. transborder flights in response to border shutdowns. Porter Airlines and Transat AT Inc. have also said they will move to suspend all of their flights.
Sunwing said it expects to have all of its customers, most of whom are at Mexican or Caribbean resorts, back home by Monday.
Global Affairs Canada said Tuesday that "Canada has no current plans to repatriate a significant group of people from other countries."