The winter season in Sault Ste. Marie heats up with weekly flights to Cayo Coco with Sunwing

Customers can enjoy family-friendly and adults only getaways to Cuba’s white-sand paradise

November 09, 2022

13:34 ET | Source: Sunwing Vacations Inc.

    TORONTO, Nov. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — This winter, Sault Ste. Marie residents can once again experience the destination that inspired the works of Ernest Hemingway with a weekly flight to Cayo CocoCuba on board Sunwing Airlines, starting this December. Offering quintessential beach vacations in the Jardines del Rey island chain with a host of all inclusive resorts to call home, customers can recharge on Cayo Coco’s white-sand shores, explore colourful coral reefs or spot exotic species in the surrounding everglades and mangroves, including one of the world’s largest native pink flamingo colonies.

    “As a popular vacation destination in Cuba for Sunwing travellers, our return to Sault Ste. Marie International Airport with Tuesday flights to Cayo Coco is something to celebrate,” said Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing. “With so much to offer in destination, our customers in Sault Ste. Marie can do more, explore more and celebrate more in a paradise that they love with easy flight access from their local airport.”

    “The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation (SSMADC) is very excited to see Sunwing flight service resume as it is a very promising sign of a return to normal following almost three years of the pandemic,” said Terry Bos, President and CEO at SSMADC. “Cuba has always been a destination that the residents of Sault Ste. Marie have enjoyed travelling to, and we’re looking forward to heading back with Sunwing.”

    Sunwing will be offering weekly flights from Sault Ste. Marie to Cayo Coco on Tuesdays starting on December 13, 2022 until April 11, 2023.

    Sault Ste. Marie residents looking to jet off for a spontaneous last-minute getaway to Cuba can take their pick of affordable vacation packages to the charming Starfish Cayo Guillermo for family-friendly adventures on land or at sea, or the award-winning Memories Caribe Beach Resort offering romantic adults only escapes and epic getaways with friends.

    Customers can get more peace of mind on their getaways to Cayo Coco when they add one of Sunwing’s comprehensive travel insurance options to their vacation bookings this winter.

    *Terms and conditions apply.

    About Sunwing

    The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.

    Sault Ste. Marie Airport Allies with #NotInMyCity to Raise Awareness about Human Trafficking in Aviation

    The two organizations and community partners are working together to help put a stop to human trafficking in the aviation sector

    SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, Nov. 9, 2022 /CNW/ – The Sault Ste. Marie Airport is pleased to share that it has partnered with #NotInMyCity to educate and raise stakeholder and community awareness regarding human trafficking in aviation within Canada.

    #NotInMyCity is a facilitative organization that is raising awareness and taking collective action to prevent, disrupt and end sexual exploitation and trafficking, focusing on children and youth. In the transport sector, #NotInMyCity is a leading partner who is helping address human trafficking across several sectors and geographic areas in Canada, including the aviation industry.

    The Sault Ste. Marie Airport will implement an e-learning and awareness program. The purpose of the program is to:

    • Provide all airport employees and stakeholders with knowledge and awareness about sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Canada with #NotInMyCity’s aviation focused e-learning platform. Members of the public are invited to learn more about the issue by taking a free e-learning course found at
    • Allow airport employees to understand the signs of human trafficking, and knowing what to do if they suspect trafficking.
    • Implement informational signage and materials throughout the airport for all stakeholders and travelling public.
    • Report any and all signs of human trafficking, without causing harm.

    “Collaborating with engaged partners in our community will enhance public safety. We will actively work with all partners and support the #NotInMyCity initiative, which will generate much needed awareness for the victims of human trafficking. We know victims are transported through the Sault Ste. Marie area. We continue to work to protect vulnerable people from predators who want to profit by victimizing others.” – Chief Hugh Stevenson, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service

    Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada and is the second largest source of illegal income worldwide. In Canada, 21 per cent of trafficking victims are under the age of 18. While making up only 4 per cent of the country’s population, 50 percent of Canada’s trafficking victims are Indigenous people.

    “The H.O.P.E. Alliance is happy to partner with the Sault Ste. Marie Airport and #NotInMyCity to provide valuable education to airport staff as well as make resources available to travelers. We look forward to working together in the future and are grateful to the airport for their understanding of the prevalence of human trafficking and their willingness to combat it.” – Taylar Piazza, Chair of HOPE Alliance

    According to the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, transportation corridors are frequently used by traffickers, and once a victim has been recruited, traffickers will often move them from city to city to maximize profits, access new markets and avoid competition. It also helps keep control of the victim who may not know where they are or how to get help, making it easier for traffickers to evade detection by police. Victims of labour trafficking may also enter Canada by way of air travel, under the false promise of a job or educational opportunity.

    “Joining this growing mobilization against human trafficking is simply the right thing to do. The need for joining was reinforced by a presentation on Human Trafficking Prevention at the 2022 Airport Management Council of Ontario (AMCO) Annual Convention & Trade Show that took place in early October.” -Terry Bos, Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation President & CEO.

    #NotInMyCity offers an interactive e-learning course for anyone interested in learning more about the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Canada. It was developed in collaboration with national and international thought leaders. Upon completion of the free 30-minute e-course, participants are awarded with a certificate. Thousands of individuals have completed the course so far.

    In Ontario, anyone can call Canada’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010 if they believe they witnessing or are experiencing human trafficking or sexual exploitation. If anyone is in immediate danger, it is recommended to call 9-1-1.

    About #NotInMyCity

    #NotInMyCity is a facilitative organization launched by Paul and Liz Brandt that is raising awareness and taking collective action to prevent, disrupt and end sexual exploitation and trafficking, focusing on children and youth. The #NotInMyCity movement is growing. We are working in alliance with key stakeholders, creating awareness, educating others and mobilizing a strategic, integrated plan to bring about transformational and sustainable change at all levels. 

    About Sault Ste. Marie Airport

    The Sault Ste. Marie Airport is owned and operated by the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation (SSMADC), a private not-for-profit corporation.

    Sunwing pulls flights from Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie

    From CTV News – link to source story – Thanks to RG

    Brendan Connor, Co-anchor (CTV News at 6) | November 22, 2021

    SUDBURY – 

    CTV News has learned that vacation airline Sunwing is bailing out of most of northern Ontario this winter.

    The airline is cancelling its sun destination flights from North Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

    Sunwing has cancelled its planned Friday departures from Sudbury to Varadero, Cuba, and its Saturday flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

    Similar flights planned out of North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie are also cancelled. Sunwing will still offer service out of Thunder Bay.

    Greater Sudbury Airport CEO Todd Tripp says it’s “devastating news” for the northern aviation business, and forces people to drive to Toronto in winter weather to catch their flights.

    “I can appreciate this was a difficult decision for Sunwing, but without more airports with approval by the Federal Transport Minister to offer CBSA service for international flights, this leaves the air carrier few options from which to operate,” Tripp said.

    “Many people from our region look forward to the annual seasonal sun program to help break up the long winter. The ability to catch a flight near home instead of the long drive to Toronto was definitely a key factor.”

    CTV News has sent messages to Sunwing seeking comment, but has not yet received a response. RELATED IMAGES

    THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

    Investigation report: Unintentional gear-up landing on runway at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, Ontario, in May 2021

    Richmond Hill, Ontario, 4 November 2021 — Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (A21O0030) into the unintentional gear-up landing on runway that occurred on 2 May 2021 at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, Ontario.

    The TSB conducted a limited-scope, fact-gathering investigation into this occurrence to advance transportation safety through greater awareness of potential safety issues.

    See the investigation page for more information.

    The occurrence

    On May 2, 2021, a Canadair CL-215-6B11 (Series CL-415) aircraft operated by the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, was conducting a local training flight at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, ON. While conducting the third circuit on Runway 12, the flight crew inadvertently landed the aircraft with the landing gear retracted while conducting a flapless approach and landing exercise. The aircraft came to a stop on the runway surface. There was significant damage to the belly of the aircraft. There were no injuries.

    Investigation information


    Photo of Jon Douma

    Jon Douma is a Senior Regional Investigator – Operations with the Ontario Region of the Air Investigations Branch. He joined the TSB in 2019 following 12 years in the business aviation sector, where he flew multiple jet and turboprop types and operated throughout North America, the Caribbean, and Eastern and Western Europe.

    Prior to business aviation, he spent several years as a flight instructor, and has maintained an interest in general aviation since then, building and flying multiple amateur-built aircraft with his grandfather.

    Class of investigation

    This is a class 4 investigation. These investigations are limited in scope, and while the final reports may contain limited analysis, they do not contain findings or recommendations. Class 4 investigations are generally completed within 220 days. For more information, see the Policy on Occurrence Classification.

    TSB investigation process

    There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation

    1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
    2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
    3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

    The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

    Passenger totals up at Sault airport as charter air service returns

    From CTV News – link to source story

    Mike McDonald, CTV News Northern Ontario Videojournalist | Sunday, August 15, 2021

    Sault Ste. Marie Airport

    Terry Bos, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, credits the addition of a second flight by Air Canada between the Sault and Toronto. He’s also optimistic about the return of charter air service to the airport, with private airline “Shaire” setting up shop there. Aug.15/21 (Mike McDonald/CTV News Northern Ontario)

    SAULT STE. MARIE — Officials at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport are seeing a significant increase in passenger totals. And for the first time in decades, a charter air service is now operating out of the airport.

    Terry Bos, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, says passenger totals for July are the highest they’ve been in quite some time.

    “(It) was a 16 month high for us with about 4,250 passengers,” says Bos. “It’s double what we did in August of last year but it’s still down about 78 per cent from where we were before the pandemic started. But certainly it’s a step in the right direction to see some growth.”

    Bos credits the addition of a second flight by Air Canada between the Sault and Toronto. He’s also optimistic about the return of charter air service to the airport, with private airline “Shaire” setting up shop there.

    “For aircraft charter, we haven’t had one based here at the airport for probably 20 years,” he says. “It’s something we’ve been sorely missing.”

    Richard Biemann, co-founder of Shaire, says he and his business partners launched the charter airline to address a service gap.

    “We’re well serviced here with Air Canada and Porter direct Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto – (but) there’s a big gap in the market going anywhere else,” says Biemann.

    “That can be anywhere in the U.S. being a border town, there’s a gap in the market going north and that’s been a bit of a disadvantage for businesses in Sault Ste. Marie.”

    Biemman says travellers flying with Shaire can expect a less hectic experience compared with a traditional commercial flight.

    “It’s a really different experience in aviation, it’s a little more romantic,” he says. “We’re not necessarily competing in the market of the cheapest fare Sault to Toronto – that’s very well serviced. We’re competing basically with private charters that go everywhere else.”

    Biemann says since launching in July, demand has been high among business travellers in and around the Sault. He says Shaire is looking to offer flights into the U.S. once the company receives regulatory approval.

    Porter Airlines CEO excited to see flights return to northern Ontario

    From CBC News – link to source story

    Company grounded since March 2020 looking to make triumphant return to skies

    CBC News · July 27, 2021

    Despite shutting down during the pandemic, Porter Airlines made plans to purchase 80 new E195 Embraer planes. (Porter Airlines)

    The head of Porter Airlines says the ongoing pandemic, despite delivering a financial hit to the company, has allowed them to focus on work behind the scenes.

    Michael Deluce, Porter’s president and CEO, said although the airline has been grounded since March 2020, they’ve used the time to purchase new planes to expand operations. 

    “Certainly the Canadian aviation space has had a very challenging 16 months, unlike no other time in history,” Deluce said. “Porter took steps early on to suspend operations and relative to other carriers, we have fared reasonably well.”

    That includes the purchase of 80 E-195 Embraer planes, which will run primarily out of Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and Ottawa.

    “They will allow Porter to extend its range from eastern Canada to all of North America, Canada, the U.S….Mexico and the Caribbean,” he said. 

    Deluce says other existing aircraft were also refurbished, including the 29 dedicated to Northern Ontario routes, and he anticipates the full roster of flights will begin October 6.

    “We have done a complete interior overhaul of those aircraft,” he said. “We have brand new seats and we have brand new carpet sidewalls, overhead bins. We’ve even restored the lavs.”

    Michael Deluce is the CEO of Porter Airlines. (Linkedin- Michael Deluce)

    Operations out of northern Ontario will begin a little sooner, September 8 on flights to Billy Bishop airport in Toronto.

    “Since our inception, we’ve served all the major markets in the north, including Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay…and that will continue to be the case as we move forward,” he said. 

    “I think by October 6, we’ll have all of our northern Ontario destinations up and running.”

    Another incentive for returning passengers is the expansion of the airline’s payment options, as well as the introduction of ticket financing, Deluce said.

    “When Porter returns to the air we’ll be seeing the Porter product at its absolute best,” he said. “And I think passengers are going to love returning to the skies on Porter.”

    Air traffic ‘moving in the right direction’ at regional airports in northeast

    From CBC News – link to source story

    Airport experts in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie both say they’re seeing more passengers, additional flights

    CBC News · Jul 14, 2021

    The Sudbury airport recently saw an increase in Air Canada flights from one to two per day.

    Air traffic in and out of the Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie airports is starting to pick up with more passengers on planes, but their Chief Executive Officers say they’re not out of the woods just yet.

    The aviation industry took a big hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-essential travel was non-existent over the 16 months, and many airports struggled.

    Now that restrictions are lifting, and more people are fully vaccinated, things are looking up for those who work in aviation.

    “We’re starting to see some growth and some pickup of traffic.” said Todd Tripp, CEO for the Greater Sudbury Airport. “We hope to see better activity come the Stage three reopening on Friday.”

    Todd Tripp is the CEO of the Greater Sudbury Airport. He says after the 16-month ordeal with the pandemic, flights are starting to increase and more passengers are on those planes. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

    According to Tripp, Air Canada has increased its flights from the airport to twice a day. Porter has announced it will return its services in October, and Sunwing will begin operating from the airport in December.

    Prior to the pandemic, Air Canada scheduled seven flights a day from the Sudbury Airport, Porter had three or four flights a day and Bearskin seven to eight flights a day.

    Terry Bos, president and CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation says there have been noticeable improvements in recent weeks as the province gradually reopens. 

    Encouraging in Sault Ste. Marie

    In June, he says there were more than five times as many passengers travelling through the Sault airport compared with the same month last year. And while the number of flights and passengers are still well below pre-pandemic levels, Bos is feeling hopeful.

    “Overall things are certainly looking encouraging, and it’s the first time in a long time that things have actually looked promising and encouraging, so it seems to be moving in the right direction finally,” he said.

    Air Canada also increased its flights out of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport from once to twice a day. Porter is also set to return in October. Bos said Bearksin Airlines continued to offer flights from the Sault throughout the pandemic, just with a reduced flight schedule. Pre-pandemic those numbers were five flights a day for Air Canada, three for Porter and six from Bearskin.

    Terry Bos is the president and CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation. (Sault Ste Marie Airport Development Corporation)

    The Sault airport has been relying heavily on government wage subsidies to survive the pandemic. Bos said they qualified for the maximum amount. They also reduced the workforce down to just full-time staff.

    “That’s certainly helped quite a bit.” 

    Bos says when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the airport did have a rainy day fund it had built up.

    “We just weren’t expecting a rainy day to last 15 to 16 months,” he said.

    No government help for Sudbury

    Because of how the Greater Sudbury Airport is set up it was not able to apply for the same type of government subsidy that the Sault Airport was able to draw on. Tripp said their finances and reserve funds have depleted over the past 16 months, and they were not able to acquire any federal or provincial relief.

    “Sadly we don’t see anything coming from the government in the near future.” 

    The airport does have a borrowing agreement with the City of Greater Sudbury.

    Tripp compares the situation to relying on the city as it might a bank.

    The Greater Sudbury Airport does have other funding requests before the government, but nothing has materialized, he said.

    Over the past 16 months, Tripp said no employee was laid off from the airport, however vacant positions were not filled during that time.

    Tripp attributes the staff at the Greater Sudbury Airport for the reason they’re still around despite the halt to non-essential travel.

    “I think it’s their hard work and their solidarity behind us that have made us where we are today, in keeping this airport open,” he said.

    Tripp would like to see a federal recovery plan for all regional airports across the country. He says major airports have had some support, but it’s the smaller airports that now need help.

    “The federal government needs to step up and look at regional airports,” said Tripp.

    And as for when the aviation industry could see a full recovery, both Tripp and Bos believe that will come sooner than many had been predicting.

    “I think we’re going to see some growth happening faster than we thought and I think that will be very helpful for us, but we will soldier through this,” Tripp said.

    “I think we’re going to see a strong steady build over the next 18 to 24 months, and I think probably within three to five years we’ll be back to where we were pre-pandemic,” Bos said.

    With files from Jonathan Pinto

    College aviation program appears ready for rebound

    From SooToday – link to source story

    New aircraft, airport developments a big help; college taking first year students for 2021-22 academic year2 days ago 

    By: Darren Taylor | 31 May 2021

    20210309-plane-DT-01A new Piper Seminole twin-engined aircraft purchased for the Sault College aviation program, March 9, 2021. Darren Taylor/SooToday

    Having faced challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing Sault College to suspend first year admissions to its aviation program in the 2020-21 academic year, the school’s administrators now say the program appears ready to soar once again.

    “The aviation program at Sault College continues to be one of our most popular and important programs. For this fall we have over 400 applications for 95 spots in the program,” said Colin Kirkwood, Sault College vice president academic and research, addressing the college’s board of governors at its most recent virtually-held meeting.

    The board recently approved purchase of a new four seat Piper Seminole twin-engined aircraft to be used in training the college’s aviation program students. 

    The Seminole, a $1.25 million aircraft, was purchased brand new from a U.S. factory and delivered to the college’s aviation site at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport in March.

    It joins two other Zlin single-engined planes which were purchased and delivered to the program in the fall of 2020.

    The addition of the Seminole plane to the Sault College aviation fleet, in particular, is of huge benefit in regard to multi-engined training, making aviation program students more marketable when they graduate.

    There are now 15 aircraft (12 single engine and three twin-engined planes) in the aviation program fleet.

    Sault College has experienced difficulties in getting its aviation students through the graduation door in recent times.

    Apart from the suspension of first year admissions to its aviation program in the 2020-21 academic year due to COVID restrictions, the province-wide community college faculty strike of 2017 and the departure of at least one flight instructor for employment elsewhere in the once-booming aviation industry led to many students not being able to acquire enough flight hours necessary to complete the three-year Sault College aviation program, those students having to return for an unanticipated ‘fourth year.’ 

    “We’ve made changes, improving the schedule to increase the consistency of flight training and we’re bringing in some new faculty recently with airline experience, trying to align with what we see as the objectives of the Ministry,” said Greg Farish, Aviation Technology – Flight program chair, speaking to the board.

    “The shut down last year due to the pandemic had a very significant impact and we are very disappointed that we had to defer the 2020 student enrolment. It was however done in the best interest of the current students, the future of the program and the success of future students. For the Fall of 2021 we are returning to normal levels of student admission. We have first ensured that all the deferred students were able to retain their spot in the program,” said Farish in a subsequent email to SooToday.

    “We have created some powerful tools that allow us to better forecast the student flight training demand and the number of instructor staff that will be required. No forecast is perfect but we have greatly improved our ability to provide the flight training hours to meet our targets for student progress toward graduation. With the metrics we are tracking we can measure progress against the plan and adjust to proactively navigate to our targets. Since we started recalling students for flight training in August 2020 we have been tracking well to our student completion goals,” Farish said.

    The addition of the new Piper Seminole twin-engined aircraft is a key component of the college’s plan to meet its goal to achieve completion targets for students as they reach their multi-engine and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) training phases in the future, Farish added.

    Despite the devastating harm the pandemic has caused the aviation industry, Farish said the industry, including major players such as Boeing “sees over the next 20 years a demand for over 700,000 new pilots. They see, and we do as well, this will be a temporary situation and the demand is going to be coming back very robustly.”

    Farish said NAV Canada’s decision, announced April 15, to maintain air traffic control service at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport and the federal government’s May 13 announcement of over $9 million in funding from Transport Canada’s Airport Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) for infrastructure improvements at the airport will be of great benefit to the college’s flight training capacity. 

    Ministry of Natural Resources Water Bomber Crash at Sault Ste Marie International Airport

    From Sault Online – link to source story

    By Dan Gray – May 2, 2021

    Plane crashed on Runway 12, Sault Ste. Marie Airport, May 2, 2021 (Dan Gray/

    At approximately 12:30 p.m. May 2, 2021 emergency services attended a reported plane crash at Sault Airport.

    Upon arrival a Ministry of Natural Resources water bomber number 274 could be seen sitting on the runway 12 at Sault Airport.

    A security guard at the airport refused to give any details past they were in the process of cleaning it up.

    After reviewing audio on someone on board of the water bomber stated “There was a failure on the landing gear, we are going to need assistance to move the aircraft off the runway.”

    The aircraft could be seen with landing gear up, and resting on its right wing.

    A statement from the MNRF Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Isabelle Chenard says they are investigating.

    “This afternoon, one of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s CL415 waterbombing aircraft made a hard landing at the Sault Ste Marie International Airport. The aircraft had been performing a routine test flight. There were no injuries to flight crew onboard, which included a pilot and co-pilot,” said Chenard.

    “A team from Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services is currently on scene to remove the aircraft from the runway. Our Aviation Services Section will be working with the Transportation Safety Board on this investigation.”