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Caribbean airline pulling out

CMC

Monday, December 21, 2009    

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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Less than a month after its inaugural flight to Grenada, the Canadian based airline, Sunwing, is ending its relationship with the island and three other Caribbean destinations, industry officials confirmed today.

They said that from January 6 next year, the airline would no longer operate flights to Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica and Guyana.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), said that Sunrise – the travel agency which contracted the airline – had violated the Travel Industry Act 2002 resulting in the voluntarily termination of  its registration.

“They didn’t have sufficient financing to continue operating the charters they were committed for. They are committed to a risk programme and they did not have sufficient funds,” said TICO’s chief executive officer, Michael Pepper.

“They have commitments to pay Sunwing on a rotation basis to Kingston, Port of Spain and Grenada and also they have another programme with sky services to Guyana. So they were committed to paying those carriers in advance for each of the flights and they did not have sufficient funds,” said Pepper, who is also the registrar for the travel industry act.

TICO employees were at the Toronto airport early today informing Sunwing’s Caribbean bound passengers about the problem and giving them the option of withdrawing from the flight.

Sunrise’s decision to voluntarily terminate its registration follows a meeting last Friday between its chief executive officer Ramnarine Tiwari and TICO officials.

“If he (Tiwari) had not voluntary terminated and I had used the power I have to suspend the license, I would not have been able to take care of the passengers” Pepper said.

TICO has guaranteed payments to Sunrise for all of the flights leaving for the Caribbean this week but would be monitoring passenger levels.

“If there is only half a flight we may have to consolidate the flights and do a hop into Kingston and Grenada. I have my people working on the numbers and then we are going to make a decision.”

The departure of Sunwing will be seen as a major blow to Grenada following an increase in visitor arrivals from Canada in recent months.

Sunwing’s inaugural flight into Grenada last month created a controversy over the lack of an official welcoming ceremony.

The fall-out has resulted in the director of the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT), William Joseph, being suspended for two weeks and an investigation ordered by the government.

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