Sunwing working to clear backlog of delayed flights after cyberattack

By Michael Ranger and Michelle Morton

Delays continue for Sunwing Airlines passengers after a cyberattack caused a system-wide failure earlier this week.

The network issue is affecting the boarding and check-in features and causing flight delays and long lines at Pearson Airport for a fifth straight day.

In a statement to CityNews on Thursday, the airline said 188 flights have been impacted by delays since the system issue started on Sunday.

As of Thursday afternoon, it said 153 of those flights have been completed, or are in progress, and is expecting to be back to normal operations by the weekend.

The airline is advising customers with flights scheduled over the next few days to check their flight status on for the latest information on departure times.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our customers for their patience this week as we work to get back to normal. This has been made possible thanks to the assistance of other carriers who we continue to sub-charter aircraft from, the dedication of our airline staff, including on-the-ground teams at airports, flight and cabin crew, along with our partners in destination.”

“Our third-party systems provider, Airline Choice, continues to work on resolving their system issue which was prompted by a compromise in their network,” it said.

To minimize service disruptions, it says Sunwing is continuing to manually process as many flights as possible.

Airline Choice confirmed to CityNews a data security event was the cause of the disruption to “a limited number of our computer systems,” and as a result, the company took certain systems offline.

“We also immediately launched an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the event. We are working diligently with third-party computer specialists to investigate the source of this disruption and confirm its impact on our systems.”

Passengers turn attention to compensation from Sunwing

Dozens of flights from Pearson to vacation destinations have been rescheduled since Sunday and passengers who have been hit with long delays are now turning their attention to compensation.

One passenger tells CityNews she’s already lost two days of her family’s vacation to the Dominican Republic because of the delays.

“We already looked into extending on the other end,” she says. “We’re lucky enough that we have taken a longer time off, but people have lost days of work and money.”

Some travellers say they’ve faced flight delays up to three days, which has cut into nearly half of their week-long vacation times in some cases.

Sunwing’s president says the company will be offering cash compensation to every passenger involved, varying on the length of delay.

CityNews has learned the airline changed its description from a large airline to a small one in January. The change means compensation could vary based on the date that passengers booked their trip.

Canada’s air passenger protection regulations state that anyone on a large airline who is delayed more than nine hours is due $1000. For a small airline, they are due $500.

An air passenger advocate says the hack was within the airline’s control and Sunwing is responsible for reimbursing customers.

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