Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sydney airport nixes Sunwing's Toronto route

Sunwing Airlines has been told it cannot operate a Sydney-to-Toronto route this summer as it has the past three years.

The Sydney Airport Authority has shelved the discount airline's run, saying there isn't enough business for three airlines to fly the same route this season.

Larry MacPherson, airport authority CEO, said the decision will benefit Cape Breton in the long term.

"If I'm going to bring in airlines and say I really don't care if you make a profit or not, and the citizens of Sydney get a cheaper ticket for a month or six weeks but then I lose that service, then I haven't served my community very well," said MacPherson.

Officials at Sunwing Airlines say they're surprised the airport is refusing their business.

Bob Sime, the airline's general manager for Atlantic Canada, said that in his 30 years in the industry, he has never heard of such a move. He believes there's room for more than two airlines.

"WestJet and Air Canada both fly into Charlottetown, and so do we. Gander, Deer Lake and Stephenville — all those airports we fly into in the summer time, [and] so do Air Canada and WestJet," Sime said.

Sime said travellers should be given a choice.

"We've had phone calls from around the region. They want our business," he said.

Sime said if his airline and the airport authority can't resolve the matter, Sunwing will take care of customers who have already purchased tickets for the route.