The Canadian government has reached an agreement with Sunwing Airlines to offer thousands of passengers refunds. The government will give the airline a C$100 million (US$81.3mn) loan to fund the massive backlog of refund requests. Travelers who made eligible bookings before 25th June 2021 for travel after 1st February 2020 can now receive refunds.
Sunwing Airlines and the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation have reached a loan agreement worth C$100 million ($81.3mn). The funds will be used to provide passengers with cash refunds in place of the travel vouchers that have been offered since last year.
The agreement will be a huge relief to tens of thousands of passengers who have had their cash stuck with the airline since as early as last February. Sunwing’s refund deal comes months after WestJet, Air Transat, and Air Canada began providing travelers refunds for canceled flights or ineligible travel.
Passengers who have booked eligible flights, hotels, and holiday packages before 25th June 2021 for travel after February 1st, 2020, can now apply for a full refund instead of their travel vouchers. An online portal will shortly become available to submit the details of the bookings and will remain open until 27th August.
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This isn’t the first time Sunwing Airlines have received a repayable loan under the government’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). In February, Sunwing received C$375 million (US$305mn) in direct aid to support the carrier through the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the first Canadian airline to receive direct support from the government, but many have since followed.
Notably, the first round of LEEFF did cover passenger refunds. This meant many travelers were infuriated when Air Canada began offering refunds to its passengers following a massive C$6 billion (US$4.87bn) bailout. However, after over 15 months, the issue seems to have been resolved.
However, Canada’s government aid comes with strings attached. Under the rules, Sunwing will limit executive compensation, dividends, and share buybacks. This is important to note following the row over bonuses and stock options given to the CEO and senior leadership at Air Canada last year. Don’t expect to see Sunwing making the same mistake in the current climate.
After a bleak 2020 and start of 2021, there is finally good news for Sunwing. Canada has agreed to scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. While travelers still must take a test before arriving in the country and one after arrival, the policy does away with the costly three-day hotel quarantine and 14 day home isolation.
This will be a huge boost for Sunwing, which carries passengers to leisure destinations in the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America.
What do you think about Sunwing’s C$100 million loan to pay back customers? Let us know in the comments!