Friday,  October 23, 2020  5:19 am

WestJet pulls back from Atlantic Canada, eliminates 100+ weekly flights

  • Air
  •   10-14-2020  8:51 am
  •   Pax Global Media

WestJet pulls back from Atlantic Canada, eliminates 100+ weekly flights
Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.
Pax Global Media

WestJet is indefinitely suspending operations to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown, while significantly reducing service to Halifax and St. John's, the airline announced on Wednesday (Oct. 14). 

The suspension eliminates more than 100 flights weekly or almost 80 percent of seat capacity from the Atlantic region starting Nov. 2 and also suspends operations to Quebec City, with the removal of Toronto service.  

"It has become increasingly unviable to serve these markets," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "Since the pandemic's beginning, we have worked to keep essential air service to all of our domestic airports, however, demand for travel is being severely limited by restrictive policies and third-party fee increases that have left us out of runway without sector-specific support."

(For a video message from Ed Sims, click here).

With today's announcement, all flights to and from Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City will be discontinued as of Nov. 2nd. 

A return to service date is unknown at this time. Guests impacted will be contacted directly regarding their options for travel to and from the region.

"We understand this news will be devastating..."

Since 2003, WestJet has successfully brought competition and lower fares to the Atlantic region through new service and routes, while driving tourism and business investments. 

As of 2019, the airline had added more than 700,000 annual seats to the region since 2015, while creating the opportunity for travel to, from and within the region on 28 routes. 

WestJet has brought competition & lower fares to the Atlantic region since 2003. (Supplied)

The airline has also worked to grow Halifax as the Atlantic gateway to Europe through the introduction of successful nonstop transatlantic service to London-Gatwick, Paris, Glasgow and Dublin since 2016, providing key economic and tourism links between the regions. 

Up until this announcement, WestJet was the only Canadian airline that maintained 100 per cent of its pre-COVID domestic network.

"We understand this news will be devastating to the communities, our airport partners and the WestJetters who rely on our service," continued Sims. "While we remain committed to the Atlantic region, it's impossible to say when there will be a return to service without support for a coordinated domestic approach. Our intent is to return as soon as it becomes economically viable to do so."

More layoffs 

In addition to the Atlantic Canada service changes, WestJet also announced on Wednesday that the airline will be laying off an additional 100 corporate and operational support employees as prospects for any near-term recovery continue to fade and demand remains weak across its operations. 

These permanent layoffs do not include airport staff from affected Atlantic airports due to WestJet's previous airport transformation announcement.

Temporary Route Suspensions:

Route
Planned 2020
Frequency

(Pre-COVID)
Current Frequency
Frequency Effective
Nov. 2, 2020

Halifax – Sydney
1x daily
2x weekly
Suspended
Halifax - Ottawa
1x daily
2x weekly
Suspended
Moncton - Toronto
3x daily
4x weekly
Suspended
Fredericton – Toronto
13x weekly
4x weekly
Suspended
Charlottetown – Toronto
3x weekly
2x weekly
Suspended
St. John's – Toronto
1x daily
5x weekly
Suspended
Quebec City – Toronto
3x daily
4x weekly
Suspended


Planned service in Atlantic Canada as of Nov. 2, 2020:

Route
Frequency Effective Nov. 2, 2020
Halifax – Toronto
2x daily
Halifax - Calgary
9x weekly
Halifax – St. John's
11x weekly

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