WestJet will be suspending several routes out of Halifax this winter season, according to a report.
Flights between Halifax and Montreal will be suspended on Oct. 28 and service between Halifax and Sydney, N.S. will be suspended as of Nov. 15.
Connectivity between Halifax and Ottawa and Halifax and St. John’s N.L. will also end Jan. 8 and Jan. 10.
Non-stop flights from Halifax to Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto will remain in service during winter, the airline says, according to the Canadian Press.
On Nov. 15, flights between Fredericton and Toronto, Charlottetown and Toronto and Quebec City and Toronto will be also be suspended, as previously reported.
“We understand this is disappointing news and we apologize for any disruption this caused our guests and communities,” said WestJet’s chief commercial officer," said John Weatherill in a statement to the Canadian Press.
The Calgary-based airline says affected customers were notified of the cancellations and are able to book alternative arrangements or receive a refund.
It hasn’t yet been announced when and if the suspended routes will return.
The move reflects WestJet’s latest strategy to refocus its routes and fleet on Western Canada, where the carrier was first launched.
The direction is part of WestJet’s growth and COVID-19 recovery plan, as CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech explained in a statement last June.
At the time, von Hoensbroech said WestJet was “strong foundationally,” having weathered the pandemic as “perhaps the world’s only airline of scale that did not accept sector-specific government funding” or issue any new equity or debt.
“We’re now at an exciting and pivotal moment for the industry and our airline,” said von Hoensbroech.
“While we will be investing the majority of our fleet in the West, as a national airline we will maintain a significant presence in the Eastern provinces, primarily through direct connections to our Western cities, while significantly enhancing our network to leisure and sun destinations, including through our acquisition of Sunwing.”
"Grow where we can win"
While routes in Eastern Canada are being suspended, WestJet maintains that it is not abandoning the east altogether.
As Chuck Crowder, WestJet’s vice-president of sales and distribution, explained at WestJet’s Travel Trade Expo in Mississauga, ON, earlier this week, the airline’s strategy is to “grow where we can win.”
“What you’ll see us doing with our strategy is not flying intra-east – so intra-Ontario to the Atlantic provinces – but we’ll pick up more flying from east going west, like Ottawa into Calgary,” Crowder told PAX.
Toronto, Crowder said, will serve as a leisure hub “where you’ll see more added service into sun flying, but also east-west flying to connect to other cities.”
“We are reducing some service, but we’re not shrinking as an airline,” he said. “We’re growing our services as well.”