WestJet has announced that it is consolidating 20 per cent of its scheduled flights from Feb. 1 through to Feb. 28, 2022
The update, shared Tuesday (Jan. 18), comes in response to the Omicron variant affecting staffing levels and the “prolonged impact of government barriers on our business,” the company wrote in a notice posted to its website.
The reductions are in addition to WestJet’s January flight consolidation announcement.
“As we continue to navigate the unpredictability of the Omicron variant on our staffing levels along with the ongoing barriers to international travel, we are making every effort to proactively manage our schedule in order to minimize disruption to our guests’ travel plans,” said Harry Taylor, Interim WestJet Group, President & CEO. “To our guests impacted by these additional consolidations, we sincerely apologize for the disruption and appreciate your continued understanding and patience.”
Over the next few days, impacted travellers will be proactively notified of changes to their itineraries by email, WestJet said.
Guests are encouraged to utilize self-serve options prior to calling for assistance; guests seeking support outside of the 72-hour travel window are able to schedule a call-back.
Flexible change and cancel guidelines and schedule change refund policies remain in place, the company said.
“We continue to advocate for the elimination of cumbersome travel rules that are unnecessarily impacting Canadians and prolonging the recovery of the travel and tourism sector,” said Taylor. “Canada remains one of the only countries in the world requiring multiple molecular tests for fully-vaccinated travellers -- these testing resources should be redeployed to our communities.”
The company noted that Canada has an “envious global leadership position in vaccination rates and aviation remains the only fully-vaccinated transportation sector and the most tested consumer activity in Canada.”
As such: “National alignment and standardization for the sector remains urgently required,” WestJet said.
PAX has reached out to WestJet for further comment.
In December, WestJet announced it had cancelled 15 per cent of its January flights.
Mr. Taylor, at the time, said that “while consolidation is a last resort, it demonstrates the reality of the service we planned versus that we can now realistically deliver.”
The lingering effect of Omicron has forced other airlines to make changes also. Earlier this month, Air Canada announced that it would be temporarily suspending service to 14 select sun destinations from Jan. 24 to April 30, 2022.
Transat, shortly after, also announced that it had cancelled nearly 30 per cent of flights until Feb 25, 2022.