Clear skies for Sunwing
Le Journal de Québec – Diane Tremblay – March 21, 2016
Sunwing generates $3 billion in revenue every year, carrying two million passengers.
Sunwing Travel Group has achieved something quite special. In ten years in Quebec, the Canadian company, founded by Colin Hunter, has managed to carve out a place among the key player in the industry, and Quebec has been an important part of this success. Sun destinations lovers, Quebeckers in fact represent 37% of Sunwing’s growth. Between two shows, Colin Hunter, who is also a well-known jazz singer, took a break to talk business.
Le Journal de Québec
The Sunwing Group has appeared on the Profit 500 List for ten years now. How do you manage to grow in the current context?
“Being a private company enables us to react quickly. Therefore, we have tighter cost controls. It’s not magic. We have to be creative. The fact that we have our own airline and our own hotel division makes a huge difference, since money remains in the company. Moreover, this means we can offer a variety of exclusive products. »
Who is he?
The founding president of Sunwing, Colin Hunter is a man who loves music and travelling. As a jazz singer, he has 12 albums under his belt, and two more in the works. His voice, similar to Nat King Cole’s, is also broadcast on the specialized music channels on board Sunwing planes. Even though there are many challenges facing the industry, the skies seem clear for this company that generates $3 billion a year in revenue, carrying two million passengers.
Are you happy with these results?
“I am very proud of our growth over the years, but the 2015 year-end results were disappointing for everyone for several reasons, starting with the weak dollar. This being side, I have noticed that the Quebec and Ontario markets have been less volatile than those in Western Canada. In spite of the drop in travellers, we continue to turn a profit every year since the creation of our company. 2016 will surely be a year full of challenges, but we are doing quite well.”
Your fleet is made up exclusively of Boeing 737-800; do you plan to acquire Airbuses in the future?
“No. Choosing to stay with only one type of aircraft has been the best decision we ever made. This has allowed us to reduce costs associated with supplies, maintenance, training and recruiting costs. Our fleet has 40 planes, nine of which are based in Quebec. However, within the next two to five years, we will replace our fleet with 737-800 MAX aircraft, which is the new generation of 737s.”
What impacts do you expect with the opening up of the Cuban market to American tourists?
“It is getting a lot of media hype, but it is yet to become a reality! It won’t happen in the short term. The Obama administration has indeed eased up on restrictions, but the trade embargo continues and will only be lifted once certain political conditions are met. For this to happen, the next president will have to be a Democrat, and there must also be a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
Are free meals aboard Sunwing planes going to be a thing of the past?
“That is our trademark, and we want to keep it that way. At Sunwing, vacations start as soon as the client gets on the plane. This is why we offer free in-flight champagne, cold and warm meals, movie blockbusters and a generous baggage allowance.”
What type of traveller are you?
“Personally, I am very easy to please. I can settle into any hotel, from the cheapest to the most expensive. It doesn’t matter to me. As long as there are no bedbugs in my mattress, it’s perfect!”
What place does music hold in your life?
“It is very important. It is a feeling that is hard to explain. Everyone comes into the world with his or her own talents. If you don’t use them, sooner or later, you will regret it. As for me, I give as many shows as I can. I have 40 shows this year, and we are in negotiations with a number of festival and events organizers in Canada and the United States.”
“The important thing is to do things with passion. Without passion, you cannot do a good job.”