TORONTO — Forecasters are warning that Hurricane Irma, now a Category 4 hurricane but still powerful with sustained wind speeds topping 240 kph, could make a direct hit on the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people. Meanwhile the CTO and CHTA have issued the first detailed report of Irma’s damage to the islands as destinations including St. Maarten, already hard hit by Irma, keep an eye out for Hurricane Jose.
Irma rolled past the D.R. and Haiti and battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early this morning with waves as high as 6 metres. Communications went down as the storm slammed into the islands. Irma also spun Friday morning along the northern coast of Cuba.
Tour operators have invoked hurricane policies and are focused on getting passengers back safely. Transat CEO Jean-Marc Eustache said the immediate financial impact is not huge, but costs will increase if there are new hurricanes every few days. He noted that it’s not the first time that island hotels have faced hurricanes. “Five years ago was a very tough season for hurricanes and at the end of the day everything was there to send the customers,” he told analysts during a conference call Sept. 7 to discuss Transat’s Q3 results.
Here are the latest updates from the airlines and the CTO:
Due to revised mandatory evacuation orders in south Florida impacting airport staffing and operations at Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports, Air Canada has had to cancel flights out of Florida originally scheduled for Sept. 8 – 11. The cancelled flights are: AC1641 Miami-Toronto, AC1623 Fort-Lauderdale-Toronto and AC1605 Fort Lauderdale-Montreal.
Air Transat is deploying 4 flights to Florida to evacuate its clients: two flights to Fort Lauderdale and two to Orlando. The aircraft are expected to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 8 and in Orlando on Sept. 9, both before noon. This operation will allow more than 750 passengers to be repatriated.
Faced with airport closures yesterday on Cuba’s islands, Sunwing made the decision to transport its clients staying in Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria by bus to Varadero where the tour operator put them up overnight in all-inclusive hotels. Rescue flights out of Varadero are operating today.
- Special flights to Cayo Coco, Holguin and Cayo Santa Maria operated Sept. 7 to repatriate customers originally scheduled to return Sept. 8.
- Customers that were scheduled to return to Canada from Cayo Coco or Cayo Santa Maria on Sept. 9 or 10 were transferred by bus Sept. 7, to alternative all inclusive hotels in Varadero. Special flights are operating from Varadero today, Sept. 8, to bring those passengers home early.
The CTO and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association have issued the most complete rundown to date of how the islands have been impacted by Hurricane Irma. Here are the latest details:
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua was spared Irma’s brunt, but it passed over the island of Barbuda. Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport reopened Sept. 6. Most residential, business and hotel properties in Antigua remain largely unscathed and already the main roads have been cleared of debris. However Barbuda suffered extensive damage.
A complete assessment is still underway, however, the latest reports indicate that critical infrastructure, such as the hospital, airport, fire station, police station, government buildings and utilities received moderate to…