Low-cost airline Swoop cancelled or delayed nearly two dozen flights in a five-day period, leaving passengers stranded.
In a statement, a spokesperson blamed the cancellations on an engine which had a leaking oil seal. The problem started on July 5, the company said.
That aircraft is expected to be out of service until at least Wednesday, impacting 23 flights so far.
“Safety is our number one priority and we sincerely apologize to our travellers for the interruption in their plans,” Swoop spokesperson Karen McIsaac wrote in a statement. “We know how disruptive it is when travel doesn’t go as planned, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment this has caused.”
Swoop partly blamed the grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft for keeping it from chartering other aircraft to accommodate stranded travellers.
“We are exploring options to charter aircraft to assist with the relief, however there are few options to do so as availability is limited in light of the MAX grounding,” McIsaac told The Canadian Press in an email.
Authorities around the world 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.
Catherine Bangel and her four-year-old daughter were scheduled to leave Edmonton on a Hamilton-bound flight just after 11 a.m. on Sunday.
They arrived at the airport only to be told their flight was delayed two hours. Eventually that became twelve hours, with very little in the way of an explanation, according to the family.
“It finally took an RCMP officer being called down to the ticket counter — more so to deal with angry passengers — but it required him to actually get on the mic and start telling people what had happened to the plane,” Bangel said.
Some Swoop customers didn’t find out about the delays until they got to the airport. Others checked prior to arriving but were still apprehensive of further issues.
“She was more than I, but yeah, we were pretty nervous we weren’t going to have a flight,” Jeff Walker said of his wife, Cindy.
The couple’s Edmonton-to-Abbotsford flight was delayed two hours, pushing back their celebrations for their 20th wedding anniversary.
Bangel and her daughter eventually made it to Hamilton but missed an entire day of appointments they had already paid for. They’re now worried about coming home.
“We have a return flight still to come in a couple weeks through the Hamilton airport on Swoop too… so we are flying with them — we have no choice, our flights are booked,” Bangel said.
The issues stretched across Canada with flights cancelled to and from Halifax, London and Hamilton. Flights in western Canada also experienced delays.
Watch below: Passengers stuck on grounded Swoop plane with no air conditioning at Hamilton airport (Filed July 5, 2019).
The airline said affected travellers would be provided with accommodation, meal and transportation as needed and would be rebooked on the next available flight. Passengers wishing to cancel would be offered a full refund, according to the company.
Swoop would not provide an estimate on when service would return to normal.
The Canadian Transportation Agency said it “is monitoring the situation” when it was asked whether it would launch an investigation,
The transportation watchdog said it has received two complaints so far, but noted that “what constitutes ‘a reasonable amount of time’ might depend on the situation, and this may have to be determined by the agency.”
–With files from The Canadian Press’ Christopher Reynolds