Saturday, May 31, 2008

Airport gets Cuba connection; Sun-seeking Saultites can board weekly flights starting in December

Airport gets Cuba connection; Sun-seeking Saultites can board weekly
flights starting in December
Posted By Elaine Della-Mattia
Posted 23 mins ago

Sault Ste. Marie Airport will get busier soon.

Sunwing Charter Airline will fly a weekly charter direct from Sault Ste.
Marie to Cuba from Dec. 19 to Feb. 27, 2009.

It will utilize a Boeing 737-800 which seats 189 passengers and will
make the trip to Varadero, Cuba once a week for 11 weeks.

Michael Wozny, executive director of the Economic Development Corp.,
said he would expect the flights to continue during the same period the
following year, if the first season proves successful.

Sunwing, a 20-year-old Canadian owned company, is listed by Profit
Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada over the past
two years.

"This is very exciting for our city and will assist us in attracting
other charters and new regular scheduled airlines to Sault Ste. Marie,"
said James Caicco, air services committee chair.

Sunwing Vacations offers all inclusive vacation packages, leisure
flights, group travel, hotel and car rental deals.

It also offers vacations to Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic,
Panama, Jamaica and Florida as well as flights within Canada.

Wozny said Sunwing may consider adding more destinations in the future.

Airport manager Terry Bos said the addition of Sunwing will increase
traffic through the Sault Ste. Marie Airport and offer area residents
more affordable travel.

The airport can accommodate the addition this year and it already has
customs facilities, a necessity for flights arriving from
out-of-country, Bos said.


Meanwhile, The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corp. also announced
Air Canada Jazz will add an extra flight to its Sunday through Friday
schedule, bringing the number to seven.

Air Canada Jazz operates 46 flights a week in Sault Ste. Marie and
Bearskin operates 41.

Bos said the demand for flights to Toronto has been great and he hopes
the extra flight will free up lower-cost seats for the occasional-traveller.

Ian McMillan, director of tourism at the Economic Development Corp.,
said the additional flight from Air Canada is good news for the Sault.

McMillan, who just returned from a conference focusing on European
travel, said the more flights into the Sault from Toronto, allows the
city to explore oversees markets more.

"The majority of our travel from North America predominantly drives here
but if we can get more flights from the hub, then there is a chance to
expand our overseas travel market, which relies on air to get here," he

McMillan said the Sunwing charter service, to be operated during the
busy sunny destination travel season, indicates economic growth in the
community and people are using disposable income to travel.

"It also raises our profile as a regional centre," he said.

The Airport Development Corp. and the EDC are continuing discussions
with Porter Airlines.

They hope the carrier will expand its services into the Sault.

"We're continuing very diligently with Porter and they plan on expanding
again later this year," Wozny said.

Bos said he hopes the Sault will be considered for flights by new
aircraft Porter will receive late this year, which could mean service
from Porter could begin in December.

Sault Ste. Marie Airport sees about 140,000 travellers annually.
Article ID# 1052466

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