WestJet to restore regional service to airports in Atlantic Canada, Quebec City
CALGARY -- Calgary-based WestJet Airlines is set to resume flights to five airports this spring following the pandemic-related suspension of service that arrived last fall.
Beginning in late June, the airline will fly to Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Quebec City.
"We committed to return to the communities we left as a result of the pandemic, and we will be restoring flights to these regions in the coming months of our own volition," said Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, in a statement released Wednesday. "These communities have been a crucial factor in our success over our 25 years and it is critical for us to ensure they have access to affordable air service and domestic connectivity to drive their economic recovery."
Service to the five airports was halted in November 2020 in response to the decline in demand for air travel as a result of the spread of COVID-19.
The airline also announced the June 24 return of its St. John's – Halifax route, with flights six times a week, has been upgraded to May 6. The route was suspended in October 2020.
The flight resumptions and their planned restart dates include:
- May 6: St John's – Halifax (six times a week);
- June 24: Charlottetown – Toronto (11 times a week);
- June 24: St. John's – Toronto (daily flights);
- June 26: Fredericton – Toronto (daily flights);
- June 28: Quebec City – Toronto (daily flights);
- June 28: Sydney – Halifax (daily flights); and,
- June 30: Moncton – Toronto (daily flights).
WestJet officials say they remain cautiously optimistic that the Atlantic provinces will open to visitors from other parts of Canada ahead of the summer travel season.
"We are seeking a domestic travel plan for Canada, we call it a framework," said Andrew Gibbons, WestJet's director of government relations. "This could be a metric chosen by Atlantic premiers in the federal government to declare Canada open and open safely. So we continue to work with the Atlantic premiers and the federal government on the need for a safe restart plan and I think everyone is on the same page and has the same goal. We want to see Canada open safely this summer, and bring these investments to life for everyone who depends on them."
Gibbons adds that the restoration of service to the Maritimes is being done in a timely manner with consideration for the current travel recommendations and isolation guidelines of individual provinces.
"(The flights) are slated to commence in late June. They're not slated to commence next week. We're not pushing people to travel over the Easter weekend. We're putting a responsible timeframe in place to meet that moment and meet that demand."
WestJet says negotations continue with the federal government on potential financial support for the airline but an agreement has yet to be reached.