September 19, 2017 12:37 am
Updated: September 19, 2017 11:04 am

Hurricane Maria: Air Canada sends 5 flights to bring people home before the storm hits

Now a category 5 hurricane, Maria's strong winds are hitting Caribbean Islands Monday.

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Air Canada is scheduling five emergency flights on Tuesday in an effort to bring people home from the Dominican Republic before Hurricane Maria wreaks a path of devastation across the Caribbean.

The airline is offering 1,150 seats for customers as the Category 5 hurricane makes its way for the Leeward Islands, an arc of islands that was already heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma.

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In an update issued on Monday, Air Canada said it is also offering free rebookings for customers travelling through airports in affected areas, including Antigua, Bridgetown, Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, St. Lucia and Port-au-Prince.

To be eligible, tickets for these airports must have been issued no later than Sept. 17, and cover an original travel date between Sept. 17 and 20.

Other airports that will see free rebookings include Samana, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana.

Tickets for these airports also have to have been issued by Sept. 17. The rebookings cover travel originally scheduled between Sept. 17 and 24.

In both cases, customers can rebook their tickets free of charge until Oct. 12.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean at 9:15 p.m. ET, with winds blowing at 260 km/h.

A hurricane warning is also in effect for Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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