Crisis management in the airlines

News 8 September, 2017
  • Photo AFP
    It was pandemonium on Thursday at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida, where thousands of people were trying to take a plane to flee the hurricane.

    Francis Halin

    Thursday, September 7, 2017 22:51

    Thursday, September 7, 2017 22:51

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    Hurricane Irma gives headache to the airlines forced to increase flights to repatriate the Québécois, stuck in the Caribbean. Since Thursday, their call centers are overwhelmed with travelers, always concerned for their safety.

    More than 2000 passengers were called back to the country via Air Transat on Wednesday, and another 2,000 around are also revenue to the country Thursday, according to Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), which states that, Sunwing, Air Canada, Cubana added to Air Transat in this effort.

    Thursday only, Sunwing has added 10 additional flights to repatriate its holidaymakers. On the side of WestJet, the airline has no flights to the affected area by Irma from Montreal,

    All in all, a dozen flights of repatriation take place every day from Montreal, according to ADM. Already, several flights to Fort Lauderdale or Holguin, scheduled Saturday, have been cancelled in Montreal.

    Even if a number of tourists quebec taken in the affected areas have demanded their return quickly, the airlines are limited to say that they rely on safety first and foremost.

    Safety first

    Isabelle Arthur, spokeswoman for Air Canada, says the company will respond to the call of a traveller, “as long as we can operate our flights safely”.

    The side of Air Transat, the company said to wait for notification from the national hurricane Center u.s. before moving.

    “We expect it to issue a notice to a category 1 storm and more, or that a storm has hit a hotel complex less than a week before the date of departure, to put our policy in place,” according to Debbie Cabana, marketing director of the company.

    Bombarded with calls

    Thursday, Air Canada was overwhelmed with calls from clients worried to the point of asking them to recall later, before hanging up the automated line.

    If the wait was around half an hour on the side of Sunwing, Air Transat responded in less than five minutes.

    For the moment, the passengers affected may extend their stay to later from airlines, according to various terms and conditions.

    The Office of consumer protection are also reminded that they could be eligible for a refund.


    Photo courtesy

    “I imagined the worst possible scenario with my guy, I said to myself “oh my God, how are we gonna do!””

    — Ariane Dessureault, a Quebec that has left Cuba narrowly

    “We will keep our fingers crossed that the storm will continue to move more toward the east.”

    — Martin Rivard insurance broker who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida

    “Sunwing suggested me to pay and go.”

    — Suzanne Abid, who was trapped with his 3 year old son to Punta Cana and which has unfolded 2000 $ with Air Canada because Sunwing had no flights available

    “We took the decision to leave Miami before the possible extent of the hurricane, which is four times larger than the Florida, he says […] We secured the boat and everything that was outside. We live on the edge of the water, on a small island, and the evacuation was mandatory.”

    — Éric Sénécal, who lives in Miami and who is left in the car with his family to the Mississippi

    “We have cautioned that, particularly for those who have never experienced a hurricane, with the intensity of Irma, the sound may be extremely scary.”

    — Marie-Christine Demers, a Quebec outlet on the islands, Turks-and-Caicos

    — Interview by Dominique Lelièvre and QMI Agency