Sunquest secures replacement flights for customers affected by shut-down of Skyservice Airlines
Only certain Toronto and Winnipeg flights in April affected
TORONTO, March 31 /CNW/ - Sunquest Vacations announced today that it has organized replacement flights for all of its customers who might otherwise have been affected by the suspension of operations by Skyservice Airlines. Skyservice was placed into receivership by the Ontario Court earlier today.
Skyservice was an independent supplier to Sunquest, which is part of Thomas Cook Group plc, one of the world's leading travel groups. Since 1995, Skyservice has operated aircraft for Sunquest and other tour operators between Canada and destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. The only Sunquest flights affected by the Skyservice shut-down originate in Toronto or Winnipeg, and represent less than a third of the remaining flights for Sunquest's winter program which ends April 30, 2010. No flights were scheduled for today and replacement flights for the coming days have been arranged with other carriers, principally Air Transat and Enerjet.
Seventy percent of Sunquest's remaining April winter flights are not affected and none of its customers on flights after May 1, 2010 are affected.
"We are focused on minimizing disruption to our customers, not only those currently at their destination but also those scheduled to travel over the coming days and weeks," said Michael Friisdahl, Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Cook North America. "Since it is late in the winter season, a relatively small number of our passengers were booked on Skyservice flights and we have the capability to respond effectively to this situation. Travel agents and Sunquest representatives at the destinations are moving quickly to contact everyone to provide updated flight details. We expect to have reached all those customers by the end of the day."
Sunquest has increased its support centre staffing and hours of operation to provide travel agents and customers with information. Details will also be available at www.sunquest.ca.
"The loss of Skyservice is regrettable for us and the Canadian travel industry," Mr. Friisdahl said. "However, we have long-established relationships with a number of flying partners and we are able to turn to these partners to quickly and seamlessly arrange alternate flights for our customers scheduled to travel with Skyservice."
Key information for Sunquest travellers:
The great majority of Sunquest vacations scheduled between today and April 30 are not on Skyservice flights. Customers who are currently booked to fly with Skyservice will now be accommodated on alternative flights.
- Travellers already at their destinations who departed from Toronto or Winnipeg on Skyservice flights: All flights have been replaced. Currently almost 80 per cent of return flights will operate on the same day as their existing itinerary, although some departure times may change. Sunquest will provide accommodation at no cost for package holiday customers who cannot return on their scheduled departure day. All customers will be contacted today by Sunquest representatives on the ground who are fully prepared and will provide details and replacement travel documentation. - Travellers departing from Toronto between now and April 30, 2010 booked on Skyservice flights: Alternative flights have been arranged for these customers. No further Skyservice flights are scheduled to depart from Winnipeg. Sunquest representatives or travel agents will contact customers today and will provide updated flight information and documentation. - Travellers at their destinations who departed from locations other than Toronto or Winnipeg: Not affected. They were not on Skyservice flights. - Travellers departing from all locations other than Toronto or Winnipeg between now and April 30, 2010: Not affected. They were not on Skyservice flights. - Travellers on any Sunquest vacations after April 30, 2010 are not affected by the Skyservice shut-down. Sunquest's summer program begins May 1, 2010 and, as previously announced, flights for the summer season are being provided by WestJet, Canada's second-largest airline. Sunquest expects to announce its flight provider for the 2010-2011 winter program very shortly.
"Everyone can continue to book their Sunquest vacations with complete confidence. We have flights in place for all our customers today thanks to our contingency planning and we have excellent flying partners to serve our customers for the future," Mr. Friisdahl said.
Skyservice Airlines is an independent company in which Thomas Cook has no ownership interest. It was placed into receivership today by order of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. This follows Skyservice's efforts earlier this year to remain viable, including seeking and receiving financial assistance from Thomas Cook Canada Inc. which owns Sunquest while Skyservice attempted to restructure its business. However, by March 31, Skyservice could no longer meet its financial obligations, and could not continue its operations.
"Thomas Cook and Sunquest did everything possible to assist Skyservice and limit the effect of its financial difficulties on travellers," said Mr. Friisdahl. "Unfortunately, faced with unprecedented difficulties in the airline business, Skyservice could not return to viability. We sympathize with the management, employees and suppliers affected by this unfortunate situation."
Sunquest is one of Canada's largest and most respected tour companies operating out of multiple gateways across the country and flying to destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Italy. It is one of several travel businesses owned by Thomas Cook North America. For more information, visit www.sunquest.ca.
Thomas Cook Group plc is one of the world's leading leisure travel groups with sales of C$13.4 billion, 22.3 million customers and 31,000 employees. With a network of over 3,400 owned and franchised travel stores and interests in 86 hotels and resort properties, Thomas Cook operates in 21 countries including Canada and the United States. For more information, visit www.thomascookgroup.com.For further information: Media contact: Travel Trade Media, Jill Wykes, Vice President Corporate Communications, Thomas Cook Canada, (416) 482-8726; or Kerry Sharpe, Director Corporate Communications, Thomas Cook Canada, (416) 485-1481 ext 6309; Other Media: John Lute, Lute & Company, (416) 929-5883