A well-known travel agency based out of North Bay has confirmed Sunwing is cancelling its winter flight schedule effective February 1 out of North Bay's Jack Garland Airport.
Chris Mayne, owner of Mayne Travel in North Bay, confirmed the news, which came only three days after Jack Garland Airport officials stated there would not be any future issues with North Bay Sunwing flights this winter.
As of Jan. 10, both North Bay and Sudbury had been removed from the Sunwing website as departure options to Cuba.
"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 Mayne, who is also a member of North Bay city council.
"The final email came in on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 11). 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.
Mayne said he appreciates Sunwing returning to North Bay for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
"There were certainly a number of people that were looking forward to leaving from here, but unfortunately not in the numbers that Sunwing needed to make the program viable," noted Mayne. "But we hope they will offer the flights from North Bay again in the future."
Airline delays "try everyone's patience," Mayne said, and having to rebook clients' travel plans can create additional setbacks.
But he expressed optimism that most people would rebook their flights to depart from the Toronto airport, since most travellers are still eager to travel this time of year.
While appreciative of Sunwing's efforts, Mayne admits the Sunwing cancellations of flights out of North Bay and Sudbury are causing his staff some significant extra work during a time of year when travel agents are already having a challenge trying to keep up with the demand for winter travel.
Back in August, Sunwing announced the airline was returning to Jack Garland Airport to provide weekly flights to Varadero, Cuba from mid-December through April, 2023.
An email to Sunwing's public relations department on Wednesday was not answered by publication time.