Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Sunwing president apologizes to stranded passengers, says result of cyber attack

The chairman of Sunwing Airlines on Tuesday apologized to passengers who have been stranded for several days, saying the network outage affecting their flights was the result of a cyber attack on a third-party provider.

“Obviously, this is a terrible situation and one we didn’t expect,” Sunwing CEO Mark Williams told CP24 in an interview. “Surely apologize to everyone for the inconvenience this has caused.

“Our goal is to get people on vacation on time with a new airplane and with great service. And unfortunately, due to a third party provider’s system outage, we haven’t been able to perform the way we wanted to. Huh.”

He said the third-party provider had been “violated”, leaving the airline to work “round the clock” to write boarding passes for passengers.

“A system that is up and running all the time, that never fails, was hacked. They had a cyber-breach and have been unable to fix the system.”

Because of the breach, Williams said, aviation authorities in both Canada and the United States want to make sure the third-party system is secure before being reactivated.

He said Sunwing is the only Canadian airline that uses the provider.

He pointed out that “airline systems contain a lot of sensitive information” and added, “It is the interest of Transport Canada, the FAA and others to understand what happened and not to bring the system back online until they are convinced.” .. that it is safe to do so.”

He said he’s reluctant to give an estimate of when things will be up and running because, so far, vendor updates haven’t been reliable.

Williams did not say whether any passenger’s information was used in the breach.

passengers stranded for days

Passengers trying to board Sunwing flights faced delays for hours today as outages affecting the airline’s check-in system continued.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Pearson International Airport on Sunday and Monday for a good part of the day, as network problems caused Sunwing to delay almost all of its flights.

In a statement to CP24 earlier Tuesday, the airline said its “check-in system provider continues to experience a system outage,” affecting its flight operations for the third day in a row.

As of Tuesday evening, around 21 flights were able to take off in the air.

But the statement that “additional flight delays can be expected.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of seven flights departing Pearson International Airport had been rescheduled for tomorrow.

While some flights took off on Tuesday, most of them reached the skies only after a delay of more than 24 hours.

“Our third-party systems provider, Airline Choice, continues to work with relevant authorities to resolve the system issue as quickly as possible,” the airline notes in the statement. “In the meantime, while we continue to process flights manually, additional flight delays can be expected and customers are advised to sign up for flight alerts on Sunwing.ca.”

A cyber breach affecting the check-in system for Sunwing has affected flights at all airports that airline services, with reports of passengers being stranded for days in the Caribbean.

Some customers have expressed disappointment with the communication received from the airline.

A passenger, who spoke with CP24 on Tuesday, has been trying to return from Cancun to Toronto for the past three days, but his flight is repeatedly delayed.

He said he had now booked a return trip to Canada for tonight, but had to do so “at a significant cost”, as there were no Sunwing flights available.

“We have been given a runaround. We don’t know who to talk to. They keep asking us to talk to Toronto, we talk to Toronto and Toronto tells us to talk to the people here. So it’s completely messed up,” the passenger, whose name is Ben, said. “We don’t speak the language, we came here based on a reliable source of going to a resort in Sunwing and back.”

President says passengers will be compensated

Williams told CP24 on Tuesday night that the delay would result in “some fairly significant cash compensation that everyone would get”, but that each individual case would vary by the hours of the delay.

The airline is providing passengers whose flights have been canceled with hotel vouchers, but only if their home is more than an hour away from the airport. Limo vouchers are being given to other passengers staying in GTA.

Williams said the airline would allow passengers to delay their vacations until June 23 this year if they are able to do so.

However, one industry watcher told CP24 that the airline-delivered carrot saga is unlikely to end.

Martin Firestone said, “It’s going to go on for months and months, where receipts and claims being given to Sunwing, going to be given to insurance companies, it’s really just a big mess and the worst part is it’s over.” Has not happened.” , who is president of Travel Secure Inc., told CP24 on Tuesday afternoon.

“They still have no conclusion of the technical problem, I suspect it will last until tomorrow or the day after and those who are about to go on a seven day trip when they have already missed three days of it have a good chance That they will walk away from the whole journey.”

Williams said that Sunwing may look to changing vendors to avoid similar problems in the future, and added that he expects passengers to try the airline again at a later date “to see what real Sunwing products are.” is.”

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