Mark Williams, President, Sunwing Airlines

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Toronto. I’ve lived in the GTA all my life except for 12 years in Calgary and two in Dallas.

How long have you been in the business? For 30 years. I got in on the accounting side, as I’m a CPA.

How many people work for you? 2,300.

What’s the best part of the job? The variety of the work. And the people. Despite that, it’s a difficult industry to make money in, and has a high stress level. There are some people who thrive on stress. I like a little stress in my life.

What did you want to be as a kid? Probably a musician. An accountant?  Never! I grew up playing the piano and taking classical voice training. But I’m no Colin Hunter  (Founder and Chairman of the Sunwing Travel Group who is a well-known crooner) – the voice is an instrument and if you don’t use it, you lose it.

What was your first-ever job? When I was in high school, working in a printing factory in shipping, receiving and sweeping the floor.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? (laughs) Start an airline!

Any guilty pleasures? Food. And music. I still like listening to alternative rock music, some obscure stuff. I’ve been to the Coachella Music Festival in California three times.

What’s on your tablet? A lot of work stuff, music, bridge. I love playing bridge. And I have to say I’m pretty good at it.

What do people not know about you? That I really love to cook. I find it relaxing.

Any hobbies or interests? I play tennis, golf, and really enjoy family time. Our boys are now 27 and 24 years old. 

When were you happiest? I’m really happy in our backyard – we have no cottage so that is our oasis.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self? "Be patient."

Who do you most admire in the industry? Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines. He founded an airline in Dallas, against American Airlines, against the odds. I like his philosophy about work and how he treats people: “Our employees are number one and our customers are number two.” – i.e. keep your staff happy and they’ll look after the passengers. 

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? The ability to speak well in public. I’m better than I was, but I used to really dread it.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Machu Picchu and the Galapagos. 

Ever had a brush with fame? A few, mostly while flying. I once sat next to comedian Catherine O’Hara who was a real sweetheart and talked my ear off.

What keeps you awake at night? It depends on the time of year. This is a tough industry, it might be fuel, the dollar, right now changes in flight duty hours limits.

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? Helping family members come to visit us. My mother-in-law, my brother-in-law.

What is your greatest extravagance? Wine.

How do you stay fit when you travel? Not as well as I should. Walking, mostly. 

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Government involvement and the resulting costs and taxes. When you consider that five million Canadians drive across the border every year to board planes in the U.S. to save money, it’s an easy fix. But it falls on deaf ears.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? My wife.

What kind of car do you drive? A Porsche Macan – the small SUV. 

Do you have a favourite charity? Anything to do with cancer, because there’s a lot in our family.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Fuel cost. And the weak Canadian dollar.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Retired - and relaxing!   


Debbakh - November 28, 2019 @ 08:54
To the attention of THE CEOs, Directors Gentlemen, Denis Jacob, Andrew Dawson and Mark Williams Gentlemen, I sincerely believed in your commitment: We believe that our customers' holidays begin as soon as they arrive at the airport and we are committed to their provide a pleasant experience throughout the trip to resolve unpleasant situations for Sunwing's customers.Please don't ignore my request. We have shifted our flight by one day (December 15 instead of December 16) in order to avoid the stopover and therefore more hours of flights.Because, more than 4 hours stopover with my medical condition causes me an unwanted discomfort that can spoil my vacation.At the time of booking I did not choose the cheapest (Monday, December 16 at $1536 with stopover) I opted for the direct flight at $1675 because of the direct flight ... But things turned out differently.We are frustrated, it's an injustice of more... I accept the change of route but I refuse to participate in this fake advertisement because it is unnecessary and humiliating scam!! All I ask you is to be kind enough to consider paying me back the difference in the amount ($230) that I could have saved. Kindly Hamza Debbakh Ottawa Trip: 48165618-Nov-2019

Tina Hart-Taylor - July 30, 2019 @ 08:27
So frustrated, my husband and i got married aug 2018 we were using our money from our wedding to go on a mini honeymoon to toronto, we got our tickets for 862 from nl which is awesome, i planned an surprise birthday party and our 1st anniversary party, we were excited to go, may we got an email informing us the flight was no longer operatinng from here it said to call to arrange another day which was fine or a refund and vouchers would be offered. I called immediately the guy was so rude, i asked for a new flight he says there are no flights annoyed as if i were disturbing him i asked why as i just got the email. he said maam there is no other flights a refund has been issued and hung up. i was so upset we lost money on our airbnb and tickets to the anniversary party. i contacted customer service and the acted like it was my decision to cancel i kept saying no u cancelled the flights. after i sent the email he writes back to say nothing he could do but he will make sure better training for csr.. fast forward to a week ago i discover sunwing is still flying from here. i again contacted customer service and asked why was our flight cancelled telling us sunwing no longer flies this route. same bs got the run around. such an crappy customer service and our first anniversary/husbands birthday ruined. never again !!!!!

Christine - July 17, 2019 @ 16:19
I had a flight from Vancouver to Toronto in May 2019...I was not contacted that my flight was cancelled..I sent my complaint to sunwing cares and have not received an answer..I had to buy a very expensive flight on Air least they had a flight back was cancelled as well

Basil Williams - April 1, 2019 @ 09:01
We have returned from Maho St Martin via Sunwing & about to submit a claim for compensation mainly due to the conditions at the hotel following a very extensive rebuild. We have a deluge of complaints, & wish to speak to whoever from Sunwing [if any] who made an inspection of the property,staffing etc prior to the reopen some 3 weeks ago.
I have stayed at this hotel many times over the past 30 years, travelled with Sunwing mostly twice a year for the past 10 years. The conditions & staffing were such that we insisted on a flight back to Toronto after a few days & cancelled our second week of vacation. The policy of charging clients to return, & who cancel with just cause should be a Sunwing concern - there were over 20 available seats on the flight.

Matthew Dytor - March 26, 2019 @ 21:23
Booked an all inclusive holiday package with Sunwing from Vancouver to Cancun from 10thFeb to 17th.
They lost our luggage on the way there, offered no help. Went two evening swithout any phone call or help from the reps. Had to purchase clothes, sunscreen and other essentials. We were told by a Sunwing representative that to hand in the receipts and they would refund us the money that we had to spend on buying necessities.
I have since emailed the baggage claims department three times and no one has ever responded. Sunwing, great concept with some cheap holiday packages. Absolutely terrible customer service and even less care towards their customers experience. Definitely will not be using Sunwing again.

Richard McCabe - March 20, 2019 @ 18:44
Hello Mark Williams I've flown Sunwing from Ottawa to Montigo Bay Jamaica for 7 days and i just found out that my direst flight back to Ottawa is not direct.I am now leaving my resort 4 hours early and my direct flight to Ottawa is sending me to Windsor Ont.So my 4.5 hr flight from Ottawa is now 7 hrs and Sun Wing is offering no compensation really Mark Williams.

Blank - February 21, 2019 @ 23:47
I was a flight attendant with Sunwing for 4 years and I was fired for taking an Apple (that was going to be thrown out) from the crew meals off the aircraft. In the policy it says no crew food to leave the plane but come on. It was going to be thrown out and it was an Apple. I didn’t steal booze, beer, food for customers. It was food meant for flight attendant. Now I’m unemployed. Thanks Sunwing.

paul mallory - February 17, 2019 @ 07:27
Mr Williams- I don't like being ignored. This is not proper business procedure.
I have done 90 flights with sunwing to the same resort in cuba- they lost my luggage dec 5 on the way down- and failed to take it out of the Toronto luggage room at the same resort on the way back dec 15- I got it 30 days later and had to drive 100 miles to get it- they send me a 50 00 voucher no I would like a free one week ticket in april to the same resort- now they have blocked me from submitting a complaint- yes I am upset.

Patricia G - February 7, 2019 @ 16:20
Don’t buy duty free onboard Sunwing as their partner DFP (Duty Free Partners) doesn’t stand up for their products. Sunwing doesn’t care and DFP doesn’t return calls or emails and only has an answering machine.

Robert Johnsen - December 19, 2018 @ 19:01
Again wrong seats .Finally Got there Sunwing rep in Jamaica more excuses . Broken TV. Room either not cleaned or cleaned late .Sgsin lots of excuses .5 As a injured retired investigator figure you hear good things about a company goes goes south .6 Again know this is going no where like most company after spending hard earned morning real disappointment Good evening Mr Johnsen 1 306 580 3295 Good evening

Robert Johnsen - December 19, 2018 @ 18:55
Well first time travel sunwing .1left Regina Sask .on December .10/2018.With my Gal Sheree Baber 2.Went online on there 12 hr window book fight system I was told by a Supervisor latter system was down of course lots of excuses.3 Called Sunwing toll free number was told by a Supervisor all good when you show up at Regina Sask You and your Gal will be in row 7 or 8 .4 Got there Morning of Gals at check in said your names not in system.5 Will make report .6 Then said be besides each other in same row again crew said do a report

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