Saturday,  February 4, 2023  1:44 am

Sunwing resumes Mazatlan flights after spark in cartel violence


Sunwing resumes Mazatlan flights after spark in cartel violence
Mazatlan, Mexico. (Pax Global Media/file photo)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Sunwing has resumed its regular operations to Mazatlan following temporary cancellations after the beach city in northwestern Mexico, last week, experienced a spark in drug cartel violence. 

In light of a Canadian travel advisory for Mazatlan and other nearby regions, Sunwing, last Friday (Jan. 6), temporarily cancelled all southbound departures to the popular vacation city, affecting departures from Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Vancouver airports. 

As a result, northbound return flights from Mazatlan scheduled for Jan. 6, 2023 were impacted by further delays. 

"Despite the many obstacles put in its path following a challenging holiday season, Sunwing teams came together to go above and beyond to protect customers locally and in destination, including taking proactive measures to notify customers and their travel advisors of the cancellations and resulting delays in a swift and timely fashion," the tour operator wrote in a statement on Monday (Jan. 9). 

READ MORE: Mazatlan mayor reassures Canadian visitors, airports reopen

Impacted customers were provided with "several options to best protect their travel plans," Sunwing said, including the receipt of a full refund to their original form of payment within 30 days, no action required, or the ability to make a one time change to their travel date or destination before Jan. 10, 2023 at current system rates, if preferred. 

For all other scheduled travel from Canadian airports up to and including Jan. 10, 2023, customers were provided the same one-time change option, available at applicable system rates, should they so choose, the company said. 

"Every effort was also made to ensure the comfort and safety of passengers delayed in destination, including providing hotel accommodation, food and beverage and airport transfers, at Sunwing’s cost, all while proactively scheduling recovery flights to be completed over the weekend," Sunwing said. 

READ MORE: Pacífico with a side of banda, por favor. PAX tours Mazatlán with Hoteles Palace & Sunwing

The Mazatlan airport has since reopened and the local area has stabilized, according to reports

"Thanks to the hard work and unwavering commitment of Sunwing teams, along with the passion for making vacation dreams come, all northbound travellers have been safely repatriated as of the weekend, and regular Sunwing operations have resumed," Sunwing said yesterday. 

Normalcy returns

The Mayor of Mazatlan, Edgar Gonzalez, recently posted a video online showing him shaking hands and posing for pictures with tourists.

"These same tourists who are practically established in Mazatlan are very confident, very calm, we see them in the historic centre relaxed, calm, no problems, not worried, they are in the restaurants, in the streets, in the galleries, on the boardwalk, everywhere completely relaxed, calm," Mr. Gonzalez said in a news release.

The Government of Canada, last Thursday (Jan. 5), issued a travel advisory for Culiacán, Los Mochis, Guasave and Mazatlan, urging Canadians there to take shelter and limit their movements.

READ MORE: Ottawa tells Canadians to take shelter as violence erupts in Mexico's Sinaloa state

Reports painted a picture of burning cars and busses, exchanges of gun fire and threats to essential infrastructure – including airports after the arrest of Ovidio Guzman – an alleged drug trafficker who is a son of former cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. 

Global Affairs on Sunday (Jan. 8) continued to advise Canadians travelling in Sinaloa, the state where Mazatlan is located, to avoid non-essential travel "due to high levels of violence and organized crime.”

The warning, however, exempts Mazatlan, which is served by Sunwing, WestJet and Swoop.

Both WestJet and Swoop have also resumed their Mazatlan flights. 


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