The first Swoop plane landed at YLW on Friday, May 24, and was greeted with a water cannon salute. (Caitlin Clow - Kelowna Capital News)

Passengers stranded in Kelowna in Swoop airline debacle could sue, expert says

Air Passenger Rights founder said Swoop breached its contract for Kelowna-Winnipeg cancellation

Swoop president Steven Greenway extended his sincerest apologies after an aircraft taking passengers from Kelowna to Winnipeg was grounded due to “unscheduled maintenance” on Monday. But for many passengers, its too little, too late.

The flight has been rescheduled to take off today—four days after the debacle.

Travellers were stranded at the Kelowna International Airport after learning they couldn’t be rebooked on a Swoop flight—some of which were told would be as soon as September 2.

“On behalf of Swoop, I would like to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience our impacted travellers have experienced due to the unscheduled maintenance to one of our aircraft,” Greenway said.

Damage was found on the body of the plane on Aug. 26, and as safety is Swoop’s No. 1 priority according to Greenway, the plane was grounded for repairs. The cause of the damage is still under investigation, he said.

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“The grounding of this aircraft caused impacts to our network through Wednesday, Aug. 28.” Greenway said in a statement. “In total, seven flights were cancelled.”

The president said Swoop is working to ensure affected passengers are provided with alternative travel arrangements in accordance with the Tariff and Flight Interruption Policies and all impacted travellers have been rebooked on the next available Swoop flight.

Air Passenger Rights founder Gabor Lukacs said not only was the company in the wrong with its response to the cancellation, but it breached its contract and broke the law.

“Passengers affected by this should sue Swoop for damages including meals, accommodation, lost wages and cost of alternative accommodation,” he said. “In addition, I encourage affected passengers to seek $1,000 in punitive damages, per passenger, due to Swoop’s high-handed behaviour.”

Passengers were told Swoop will reimburse the cost of tickets purchased from other airlines as long as they are in the same class of service—basic economy. Stranded travellers were also provided with vouchers to cover meals, hotels and transportation.

“The aircraft will return to service on Thursday, Aug. 29,” Greenway said, but many passengers turned to social media to say they have already figured out a way home and many said they will not fly Swoop again.

“Safety will always be at the forefront of our decision making and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to our impacted travellers.”

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