Passenger jet makes emergency landing in Abbotsford after hitting birds
737 aircraft hit flock of birds shortly after takeoff
Patrick Penner, 10 September 2019
A 737 aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing at Abbotsford International Airport Tuesday morning after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.
Flight number 312 departed from Abbotsford at 8:07 a.m. and was headed for Edmonton under Swoop airlines. It was carrying over 100 people.
People around the city reported hearing a loud boom in the skies and one witness said she saw flames coming out of one of the engines. One passenger reported a burning smell filling the cabin, which the pilot then reported was the result of the birds combusting.
“It’s not in my memory the last time an aircraft landed here due to an emergency tied to a bird-strike,” said the airport’s general manager, Parm Sidhu.
Police cordoned off the area as emergency crews headed to the scene prior to the plane landing.
It without further incident and passengers were escorted to the terminal to await another flight shortly after.
A plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Abbotsford International Airport after a bird strike Tuesday morning
The City of Abbotsford says all passengers are safely back at the YXX terminal after an emergency landing on Tuesday
Witnesses reported hearing loud ‘booms’ and seeing flames from at least one engine after a plane hit some birds near YXX
ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – There’s been a scare on a flight leaving Abbotsford International Airport.
“There was a bird strike at YXX,” Alex Mitchell with the City of Abbotsford confirmed on Tuesday. “The aircraft has, however, landed safely and passengers have been offloaded into the terminal safely.”
There was a birdstrike at YXX – the Aircraft has landed safely passengers have been offloaded into the terminal safely. Updates will be available in the coming hours.
The damaged plane will return to service Thursday, Greenway said.
“Safety will always be at the forefront of our decision-making and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to our impacted travellers,” Greenway wrote.
Greenway said those affected can rebook on the next available Swoop flight, or rebook on another airline. Swoop will reimburse the cost of tickets, as long as they’re in the same class of service, he said.
Any travellers delayed more than three hours have received meal, hotel and transportation vouchers, he said.
‘No clear information’
Passengers have slammed the airline on social media, saying they received little notice before the cancellations and couldn’t contact the airline’s call centre, which is only open during weekday business hours.
Anika Scheurer, 24, was forced to re-book with WestJet after Swoop re-scheduled her cancelled Monday flight from Kelowna to a flight a week later on Sept. 2.
She said the support from Swoop was meagre at best.
Gabor Lukacs, founder of the non-profit organization Air Passenger Rights, said offering alternative transportation to passengers the following week is “unreasonable and unjustifiable.”
He said the airline has a duty to find reasonable alternatives for its passengers if a flight is cancelled and it can’t be blamed on an act of God — and that includes arranging flights on other airlines if necessary.
One passenger says the airline rescheduled her flight home a week later
CBC News · Posted: Aug 27, 2019
A group of friends from Winnipeg who spent the weekend at a bachelorette celebration in Kelowna say a cancelled flight left them stranded — with the airline offering return flights more than a week later.
Six women, including Anika Scheurer, booked their flights from Winnipeg with Swoop, an ultra-low fare airline owned by WestJet.
“It was mainly price and the dates,” Scheurer, 24, said in explaining why she chose Swoop, adding that the round-trip ticket was about half the price offered by other airlines.
But as the group prepared to board a plane home Monday, a mechanical problem caused a delay. Hours later, the delay turned into a cancellation.
That’s when Scheurer says the airline “turned a celebratory weekend into a nightmare.”
And according to Gabor Lukacs, founder of the non-profit organization Air Passenger Rights, that’s why travellers need to know what they’re entitled to when trip plans go sideways.
“This is an egregious case. Offering someone transportation the next week is unreasonable and unjustifiable,” said Lukacs.
Scheurer said the airline gave her and the other passengers a hotel voucher for the night and said $30 would be reimbursed for meals. They were told Swoop would find them flights or charter a plane within 48 hours.
But when she got an email from the airline late Monday night, she learned the flight home was scheduled an entire week later, Sept. 2. She said the group of six women was split up on various flights, with some scheduled to leave even later.
Distress and confusion ensued, as the women considered the costs of an unexpected few days away from home.
“We had someone who was doing pet boarding, there was child care cost, wages lost,” said Scheurer, adding that some of the women would be drawing from next year’s vacation time.
Scheurer called the number provided, and discovered Swoop’s call centre is only open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. MST on weekdays.
The group got in touch with WestJet and paid for flights home with that airline on Tuesday.
‘It’s Swoop’s problem’
According to Lukacs, the airline has a duty to find reasonable alternatives for its passengers — if a flight is cancelled and it can’t be blamed on an act of God — and that includes arranging flights on other airlines if necessary.
“It’s not the passenger’s problem or concern how Swoop deals with it, it’s Swoop’s problem,” he said.
Lukacs said any costs incurred due to the delays, including meals, accommodation, lost wages, and even child care should be demanded from the company in writing. If it’s not reimbursed within about a week, he said passengers should take the airline to small claims court, even demanding $1,000 in punitive damages to send a message when appropriate.
Travelers who were expecting to fly from Kelowna, B.C., to Winnipeg had an unpleasant surprise when they were told their flight on the Swoop airline was cancelled – and that they wouldn’t be re-booked until, potentially, early September.
Pat Ward and Emily Rae say they were scheduled to come home to Winnipeg Monday but found out their flight had been cancelled due to mechanical issues.
They and nine other friends and family were in Kelowna for a wedding, said Ward, and they said they were promised a charter flight home by the company on Wednesday.
Ward said some have paid $750 to catch other flights to leave, and Swoop has told them they will not compensate them. Others have since found out that Swoop would only cover one night of hotel accommodation.
Monica Raabe, who was also on the flight, told Global News she ended up taking a WestJet flight to make it back to Manitoba.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “How could people just suddenly extend a vacation, or have money too? It’s absolutely unacceptable.
“We were fine with them cancelling a flight due to not wanting to put people in jeopardy. We were fine with having been put up in accommodations, but it’s just so insane to think that people would ever accept to stay that much longer.”
Raabe said she was given the runaround when trying to contact Swoop, and eventually just decided to take another flight.
“We had to book on WestJet, had to completely use a different carrier – although it’s not a different carrier, because I was told by many people that Swoop is owned by WestJet.”
Calgary-based Swoop was launched in 2017 by WestJet as an ultra low-cost carrier.
The airline confirmed there was unscheduled maintenance to the aircraft, and that Swoop has “all our available resources working to get travellers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.”
They did not say if passengers would be compensated for their other flights or hotel accommodations.
Rae said that wasn’t nearly good enough and warned people off the airline.
“I would say: Don’t fly Swoop,” said Rae.
“I hope they’re going to man up and come through for everyone,” Ward added.
The airline cancelled 30 flights during the first 10 days of July alone
CBC News · Posted: Aug 15, 2019
Yet another Swoop flight out of Hamilton has been cancelled, this time stranding a plane-full of people destined for British Columbia.
Flight 109 scheduled to take off at 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday and land in Abbotsford, B.C. at 8:39 p.m. was cancelled, according to the airline’s website. It does not provide an explanation of why.
News of this latest cancellation follows frustration and confusion sparked by a rash of 30 cancellations the airline made during the first 10 days in July that left some customers paying out-of-pocket to salvage travel plans.
Chris Squires says it meant a rocky start to vacation for him and his family, who were supposed to take their first trip back to B.C. in four years on Wednesday.
They live in Kingston, but booked a flight out of Hamilton way back in March.
Squires, along with his wife and two kids, was dropped off by friends at the John C. Munro International Airport. They had made it through customs when he says they received an email saying the flight had been cancelled due to a “mechanical” issue.
After months of planning and a three-hour drive from Kingston, Squires says notice of the cancellation came just two hours before their plane was supposed to take off, leaving little time to come up with a contingency plan.
“We’re going back because my mother-in-law had surgery,” he explained. “We chose Swoop because it seemed to be a great deal. We’re very disappointed.”
The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Squires says he was initially told he and his family were being moved to another flight that wasn’t scheduled to take off for another three days.
CALGARY – WestJet chief executive Ed Sims says the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max is having a “substantial negative impact” on the airline, even as the company reported robust earnings in its first full quarter without the fuel-efficient jetliner and on the cusp of its acquisition by Onex Corp.
In a phone interview, Sims said the grounding — now expected to continue at least through November — has forced WestJet to increase spending on fuel and cut its routes.
Sims declined to quantify the financial hit, saying he is in discussions with Boeing about the “substantial loss” of WestJet’s 13 Max 8s, which comprise about 10 per cent of the carrier’s seat capacity.
WestJet nonetheless beat analysts’ expectations with a 380 per cent profit increase year over year to $44.3 million last quarter, as a boost in passengers bumped up revenue 11 per cent to $1.21 billion.
Analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank of Canada says in an investor note the grounding will hinder capacity growth and raise expenses for Canadian airlines, but that lower jet fuel costs and a stronger Canadian dollar may help offset those headwinds.
On Friday, Alberta’s superior court approved the $3.5-billion deal between WestJet and Onex Corp., which expects to complete the buyout following further regulatory green lights later this year.
Authorities across the globe banned the Boeing aircraft from their skies last spring after two crashes — in Indonesia in October and Ethiopia in March — killed all 346 passengers aboard, including 18 Canadians.
WestJet says it found replacement aircraft for about 700 of the 1,000-plus 737 Max departures scheduled in June, the final month of the second quarter.
Sims said a sale of regional carrier Encore or budget offshoot Swoop are not on WestJet’s agenda at the moment, and that no layoffs of its 14,000 employees will stem from the buyout.
WestJet, founded as a no-frills regional upstart in 1996, has set its sights on Air Canada in recent years, challenging the carrier’s dominance on international routes by adding transatlantic flights, wide-body planes and premium fares.
The airline has also grappled with unionization and higher costs, which have offset some of its revenue growth. The company is expected to earn a per-share profit of $1.24 this year compared to $2.92 in 2015, according to analysts polled by financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
By Erica Alini National Online Journalist, Money/Consumer Global News
For years, consumers lamented the cost of air travel in Canada. But now that Canadian no-frill airlines are a thing, their takeoff is proving rougher than many expected.
Carolina Ayala was one of the hundreds of Swoop passengers affected by the low-cost carrier’s decision to cancel 23 flights between July 5 and July 10 due to unscheduled maintenance on one of its aircraft. Ayala, who was supposed to fly back to Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on July 8, said the airline told her the night before her flight — a Sunday evening — that she’d been re-booked on a flight leaving a whopping four days later, on July 12.
Waiting that long wasn’t an option for Ayala, who was due to start a new job in Toronto. But when she tried to contact the airline’s customer service, she couldn’t reach anyone over the phone on the weekend, she said.
In the end, Ayala had to pay $731 out-of-pocket for an Air Canada flight to Toronto that was nearly four times more expensive than the $191 she’d paid for her original return ticket on Swoop.
The company was quick to refund Ayala for her unused part of the booking, but it wasn’t until July 15, after she had spoken with Global News, that the airline also extended an offer to reimburse the cost difference for the Air Canada ticket.
Swoop said in a statement it is completing a “full review” of the cancellations and is committed to “improving [its] process to regain the confidence of [its] travellers.”
“We have already identified the need for additional traveller support in our contact centre and acknowledge the volume of correspondence required during this event has had a significant impact to our response time,” Swoop said. “Affected travellers were re-booked on the next available Swoop flight and we worked on a case-by-case basis thereafter on alternate arrangements if the new flight time provided was not suitable,” the company said.
Last-minute changes at Flair Airlines have also left some passengers scrambling. In February, for example, the ultra-low-cost carrier announced it was suspending seasonal flights to Florida and California earlier than expected.
The Edmonton-based airline attributed the decision to the unravelling of an agreement with a third-party airline as well as disappointing passenger booking volume.
“We are in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or, for those who have already started their journey, alternative travel arrangements on other airlines,” the airline told Global News in February.
But some Flair travellers have also complained about the airline’s customer service. Last year, for example, it took Colleen Shickluna, of Port Aux Basques, N.L., more than two months to obtain a refund for the $130 cab ride she had to take to Hamilton from Toronto after her Flair flight was rerouted away from its original destination.
Shickluna said she received the reimbursement after Global News published an article telling her story and that of other disgruntled Flair passengers.
At the time, Flair provided the following statement: “We apologize to any person that has not received reimbursement or a refund to what was promised or owed to them, after acknowledgment of a receipt. In May of this year, we made significant improvements to our systems and processes; enabling us to optimize our customer experience. We deeply regret if individuals are awaiting resolution, and will prioritize and address their concerns on an individual basis.”
But aviation expert John Korenic rejects the notion that flying with a no-frill airline inherently comes with a higher risk of aggravation. The issue isn’t that Swoop and Flair are low-cost carriers but that they have few planes to fly.
Swoop currently has seven aircraft in its fleet, while Flair has five and is expecting two more to join its fleet in the next couple of months. That’s a fraction of the fleet size of other well-established, ultra-low-cost carriers. In Europe, for example, Ryanair and EasyJet operate more than 450 and 300 aircraft respectively.
And a tiny fleet means a higher chance of flight disruptions, Korenic said in reference to Swoop’s recent spree of flight cancellations.
“If you lose one aircraft, that’s one seventh of your fleet gone.”
The risk is especially high during the peak travel season, which tends to be between mid-June and the beginning of September in Canada, he added.
“That’s when you have your highest demand. You want to maximize your fleet as much as possible, so there’s little opportunity to add aircraft or capacity into a market place,” he said.
Likely adding to that challenge this summer are widespread capacity shortages caused by the issues surrounding Boeing’s 737 MAX planes, Korenic said. The jets have been grounded worldwide since March after two crashes involving the new-generation aircraft killed 346 people, including 18 Canadians.
Still, even for start-up airlines with a tight cash-flow, getting customer support right is of the utmost importance, Korenic said.
Re-booking a passenger several days later, “wouldn’t work for any of us,” he said.
On July 15, new federal consumer protection rules for air passengers came into effect establishing new standards for treatment and compensation in case of overbooking, tarmac delays and lost or damaged luggage, among other things. Another batch of regulations is expected to roll out on Dec. 15, covering issues including flight delays and cancellations.
But will the new regime make a difference for passengers choosing low-cost carriers?
For cancellations that are “within the carrier’s control but required for safety purposes,” as in the recent Swoop cancellation, under the regulations coming into effect in December, “large airlines would have to re-book the passenger on another (competing) airline, if their own next available flight (or their partner’s) departs nine or more hours after the passenger’s original departure time,” the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) told Global News via email.
For small airlines, the requirement to re-book using competing airlines doesn’t exist, the agency also said. However, “the routing of the alternate travel arrangements must be reasonable and, to the extent possible, provide services that are comparable to those of the original ticket,” according to the CTA.
If the alternate travel arrangements don’t work for the passenger, all airlines must refund the unused portion of the ticket.
Also, “if the disruption has caused the passenger’s travel to no longer serve a purpose and the passenger is no longer at the point of origin on their itinerary, the airline must provide the passenger with a confirmed reservation back to the point of origin on the ticket and refund the full amount of the ticket,” the CTA said.
Still, the regulations do not specify a time limit for small carriers re-booking passengers, which renders the provision “less than useful,” according to Ian Jack of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
“It is another reason why we need the regulator — the CTA — to be vigilant,” Jack added via email. “They have the ability to examine cases if someone complains, and can rule on the reasonableness of airline actions. The overarching goal of the regime is to get people to where they were going with the shortest delay.”
Still, Jack added it might be “challenging” for the CTA to effectively oversee the new regime without additional resources.
On the other hand, passengers dropped off somewhere other than their original destination, as was the case with Shickluna, would have a right to alternate arrangements ensuring they can reach their final destination, Jack said.
But air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs said the new rules aren’t likely to be systematically enforced.
“In the past, the problem has been that fines were not being issued in practice,” he said, an issue he believes will continue under the new regime.
Lukacs and disability rights advocate Bob Brown have filed a lawsuit against the CTA concerning the new air travel regulations.
The rules also face a legal challenge from Air Canada and Porter Airlines, along with 17 other applicants including the International Air Transport Association — which boasts 290 member airlines — which claims the regulations violate international standards.
For her part, Ayala has already made up her mind about Canada’s low-cost carriers.
New regulations aim to make compensation claims easier — but they’re also being challenged in court
By Sophia Harris · CBC News · Posted: Jul 14, 2019 4:00 AM ET
The abrupt cancellation of 30 Swoop flights over the first 10 days in July sparked anger and confusion, with some customers paying out-of-pocket to salvage travel plans.
New federal air passenger protection regulations, which roll out Monday, aim to cut down on customer confusion by laying out clear compensation amounts and treatment standards for mishaps involving all airlines. But rules covering cancelled and delayed flights won’t take effect until December. The regulations also face two legal battles, including one from airlines trying to quash them in court.
In the meantime, upset Swoop passengers haved launched their own battles. So far this month, the Canadian Transportation Agency has received 19 complaints concerning cancelled Swoop flights.
The ultra-low-cost-carrier, which is owned by WestJet, said the cancellations were caused by unscheduled aircraft maintenance.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Swoop spokesperson Karen McIsaac in an email. “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment we have caused and continue to direct our efforts to assisting those travellers that have been affected.”
Radek Romanowski got his cancellation notice the evening before his July 8 return flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Hamilton. A second email that night informed him that he was rebooked to fly on July 15 — one week later.
That didn’t work for the small business owner who needed to return home to Komoka, Ont., for work. But he couldn’t call Swoop to complain — because it was Sunday and the call centre was closed. He did send an email, but received no reply.
“It’s very, very bad business practice,” said Romanowski. “No communication, no conversation, no answering, nothing.”
In desperation, his wife, Hanna, used up more than 22,000 Aeroplan rewards miles to rebook him on an Air Canada flight the next day.
“It should be better back-up or better service to get people back to where they are going,” she said.
Kevin Blenkhorn found out his Swoop flight was cancelled when he and his wife showed up at the Hamilton airport on July 7 to take their return flight to Edmonton.
“I was not happy,” said Blenkhorn who lives in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Swoop had rebooked him on a flight that departed six days later, but Blenkhorn needed to get home immediately to return to his mining job.
He found a flight leaving the next morning on WestJet — Swoop’s owner — totalling $1,462 for two last-minute tickets. He was surprised that WestJet wouldn’t waive the cost.
“I called WestJet and they said, ‘Well, we really don’t have anything to do with [Swoop].'”
Blenkhorn’s new booking cost him close to triple the price of his yet-to-be refunded Swoop tickets. Following the advice of a Swoop employee at the airport, he filed a claim with the airline, requesting reimbursement.
“Til the money’s in the bank, I’m not counting on anything,” he said.
What does Swoop owe passengers?
CBC News interviewed a total of four affected Swoop customers who each said they were unhappy with what was offered: a refund or a rebooking on a Swoop flight on a later date. Those are also the only options the airline publicly listed in tweets to complaining passengers.
However, for flight cancellations within its control, the airline’s current rule book — or tariffs — also lists another alternative: rebooking passengers on a different airline “in situations where other options have been deemed unacceptable.”
CBC asked Swoop why many passengers weren’t also offered a rebooking on another airline.
“We are following what is stated in our tariffs,” said spokesperson McIsaac on Tuesday. “After rebooking on the next available Swoop flight, we are working on a case-by-case basis with travellers on alternate arrangements if the new flight time provided is not suitable.”
Consumer advocate John Lawford said — based on Swoop’s written rules — it could be left open to interpretation when precisely it had to offer affected passengers seats on another airline.
For example, the rules allow small carriers — such as Swoop — to pay out lower compensation and offer fewer travel options when flights are cancelled.
But Lawford said at least passengers will be able to easily access all the rules before they choose an airline, and make their decision accordingly.
Court battle takes flight
The air passenger protection regulations also face a couple of legal challenges.
On June 2, 17 applicants — including Air Canada, Porter Airlines and the International Air Transport Association — argued in a Federal Court of Appeal filing that the regulations are “invalid” because they contravene international standards.
Lawford said the new rules will still roll out Monday. But he fears some airlines may refuse to comply while the case is before the courts.
All of Canada’s major airlines, including Air Canada and Porter told CBC News they will comply with the current rules.
Disability rights advocate Bob Brown and passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs have also filed an application with Federal Court of Appeal, challenging the regulations.
They claim rules allowing tarmac delays of close to four hours violate the charter rights as some people with disabilities may not be able to tolerate such a long delay. They also argue the regulations take away some existing protections for “bumped” passengers.