Barbuda was the first island to bear the brunt of the category five storm earlier today, as the potentially catastrophic 185mph winds and rain barrel towards Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. “I understand that the round-trip airfare is not reimbursed”, said Aaron Green, an Air Transat traveller waiting at the airport.
The carrier has dispatched a total of ten aircraft to the island of Hispaniola, of which seven to Punta Cana.
The holiday travel airline did not say how many of its travellers would board the flights back to Canada.
Punta Cana airport was bustling Wednesday morning, where about 1,000 people waited in three lines for Air Transat flights to Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto.
Irma, considered the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, was bearing down on the northeast Caribbean, following a path predicted to then rake Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida.
Sunwing, meanwhile, said on Wednesday “we have already activated plans to repatriate customers in the destinations that we fly to that are now under hurricane watch or warning”. Our Sept. 8 flights to Puerto Plata have also been cancelled.
More information about Sunwing flights can be found here.
The Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (295 kph) by early Tuesday evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
“Air Canada is reviewing capacity requirements and working with Air Canada Vacations to ensure we have sufficient capacity to bring our customers home safely”, the airline said in a statement, adding it has waived fees for customers wanting to change flights. “Then there are tons of people on the countryside, without any transportation and elderly.”As Irma barreled over the Atlantic Ocean toward the small US territory, Puerto Ricans prepared for a storm of historic proportions.Parra’s cousin, Adalberto Gonzalez, operates two paramedic companies on the island and has been working 12-hour shifts in preparation for the storm.Gonzalez said he was keeping a cool head as the storm approached.”I’m calm”, said Gonzalez, 45″.
Officials in the Florida Keys geared up to get tourists and residents out of Irma’s path, and the mayor of Miami-Dade county said people should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach and most of the county’s coastal areas.