Category: WestJet Airlines

Canada approves Pacific Coastal to serve US as WestJet Link

News provided by FlightGlobal.com – link to full story

18 September 2019 by Pilar Wolfsteller, Flight Global, San Francisco

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has approved Pacific Coastal Airlines’ application to operate WestJet feeder flights between the Canada and the United States.

The 3 September approval could mark a step by WestJet toward additional US flying, but the carrier did not respond to requests for more information.

Vancouver-based Pacific Coastal, which operates a fleet of 34-seat Saab 340Bs, currently serves smaller regional airports in western Canada including Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat and Prince George as part of the WestJet network.

The carrier began flying for WestJet in June 2019, connecting WestJet’s Calgary hub with smaller cities in British Columbia and Alberta.

WestJet Link’s latest route, once-daily service between Vancouver and Cranbrook, is its sixth and will be launched in October.

WestJet cancels 10 Sask. flights to sunny locations after Max 8 grounding continues

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

Flights to Phoenix, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta affected, not known when flights will return to normal

CBC News · Posted: Sep 10, 2019

A Boeing 737 Max 8 in Westjet’s hangar in Calgary. (Mia Sheldon/CBC)

Saskatchewan travellers looking to fly south for the winter this year might be in for a bumpy ride.

This week, WestJet announced flight cancellations from airports in Regina and Saskatoon. 

The company blamed the disruptions on Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets. The planes were pulled from service by Transport Canada after 346 people were killed in crashes involving Indonesia’s Lion Air in 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines in March of this year. Both incidents involved the Max 8.

“Guests who hold a current reservation impacted by this update will be notified proactively if there are changes to their itinerary,” wrote WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell. “Where possible, we will work to substitute other aircraft directly onto a route and will not impact a guests itinerary so notifications will not be necessary.”

The following flights will be affected:

  • Saskatoon-Phoenix: Three weekly flights suspended.
  • Regina-Orlando: One weekly flight suspended.
  • Regina-Phoenix: Three weekly flights suspended.
  • Regina-Cancun: suspended one weekly flight in November. WestJet will operate one weekly flight in December.
  • Regina–Puerto Vallarta: One weekly flight suspended. WestJet will continue to operate once weekly in November. Two weekly flights will be suspended in December.

Air Canada and Sunwing had already announced plans to pull all Max 8s from its schedule until next year.

WestJet said the suspensions are temporary and that flights will resume once the Max 8 is cleared to return to service. However, that won’t happen until January 5, at the earliest. 

Transport Canada hasn’t said when the ban will be lifted.

Boeing says a system designed to help keep the Max 8 stable seemed to be a factor in each crash.

Many other governing bodies, including China, the United States and the European aviation authority, have banned the planes from their airspace.

WestJet currently owns 13 Max 8 jets, accounting for 10 per cent of its fleet.

Many other flights from Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto have also been affected.

With files from Ian Hanomansing

WestJet suspends four Regina hot holiday routes

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

9 September 2019, By David Baxter, Reporter  Global News

WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it is removing its grounded Boeing 737 Max jets from service until at least Jan. 5, affecting thousands of passengers with travel plans during the busy winter holiday season. Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline's facilities in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it is removing its grounded Boeing 737 Max jets from service until at least Jan. 5, affecting thousands of passengers with travel plans during the busy winter holiday season. Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

WestJet is temporarily cancelling some direct hot holiday destination flights due to continued grounding issues with Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Four Regina routes are being affected by the move, with scheduling changes set to run Nov. 4, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020, unless otherwise specified.

Regina’s once-weekly flight to Orlando, Fla., and three weekly flights to Phoenix, Ariz., are suspended.

The once-weekly flight from Regina to Cancun, Mexico, will be suspended for November, but WestJet plans to operate weekly flights in December.

The Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, routes will see one weekly flight suspended, but WestJet will continue to offer one trip a week for November. However, the two weekly flights will be suspended in December.

According to WestJet, there is no timeline on when MAX planes will return to their fleet, and this change is being made to limit last-minute cancellations.

The company said they are proactively notifying passengers about the need to rebook travel options. This began on September 8.

The plan is to resume these routes once MAX planes return to the fleet, according to WestJet.

This is the sixth time WestJet has made these kinds of nationwide schedule changes involving MAX aircraft since March 13.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canadian passengers scramble after British Airways cancels flights due to strike

News provided by BNN Bloomberg – link to full story and updates

The Associated Press, 9 September 2019

WATCH: Video

British Airways Pilots’ Two-Day Strike Grounds Nearly All Flights

LONDON — Canadian travel agencies are scrambling to help passengers whose British Airways flights have been cancelled on Monday and Tuesday after a pilots strike grounded the global carrier.

The airline says more than a dozen flights between Canada and London are slated to be cancelled over the two days, affecting about 3,500 passengers based on the size of the scheduled aircraft.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is most impacted with four flights each day. One arrival and one departure are cancelled over the two days in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

“Customers were sent email notifications if they have been affected,” British Airways said in an advisory to travel agents.

Passengers can receive refunds or rebook for later flights. They may also be able to rebook on partner airlines such as American Airlines, Finnair and Aer Lingus, if seats are available.

Toronto travel agency TTI Travel says some customers have called to inquire but there doesn’t appear to be any alarm.

“We’ve been looking at flights and trying to re-accommodate them and make some decisions around how we support them and what those options are,” said TTI vice-president Lucy Lavigna.

Air Canada says it has added larger aircraft on the route between Toronto and London-Heathrow to accommodate increased demand it has seen in recent days.

“Last night we operated one flight on the route (we have four flights daily) with a 400-seat, Boeing 777 instead of the scheduled 298-seat Boeing 787-9, and will do the same tonight,” said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick by email.

“That makes for a total of about 400 extra seats in the market. We continue to monitor the situation, but there are no plans for additional capacity at this time, in part because our aircraft are already committed under the existing schedule.”

WestJet Airlines said it’s “business as usual” for the Calgary-based airline.

British Airways cancelled almost all its flights for 48 hours, affecting as many as 195,000 travellers, due to a strike by pilots over pay.

The U.K.’s flagship carrier said in a statement Monday that it had “no way of predicting how many (pilots) would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.”

As a result, it said it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100 per cent” of its flights for the duration of the strike.

“We have supplemented our fleet by using aircraft and crew from other airlines (wet-leasing) and working with our partner airlines to schedule larger aircraft to take the maximum number of customers,” said the trade support website that details customer guidelines.

British Airways operates up to 850 flights a day. London’s sprawling Heathrow Airport was most affected by the work stoppage as it is the airline’s hub and is used for many of the company’s long-haul international flights.

The departure area at Heathrow Terminal 5 was almost empty, with only a handful of BA flights set to leave on Monday.

There were no queues at any of the check-in desks or security gates and only a handful of people waiting on benches. The terminal is typically quite busy.

British Airways said it stands ready to return to talks with the pilots’ union, Balpa, and that it has offered all affected customers full refunds or the option to rebook. The airline had been preparing for weeks for the strike, giving travellers advanced notice.

“We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers,” it said.

“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.”

British Airways says it has offered pilots an 11.5 per cent pay raise over three years but the union says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.

The union accuses British Airways of making big profits at the expense of workers who made sacrifices during hard times. British Airways’ parent company, IAG, made a net profit of 2.9 billion euros (US$3.2 billion) last year.

Union leader Brian Strutton said pilots are determined to be heard.

“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.”

A further strike is penciled in for Sept. 27.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Crackdown on Canadian airlines nothing more than a ‘token gesture’: advocate

News provided by CityNews1130.com – link to full story and updates

By TARRAH HARVEY AND THE CANADIAN PRESS, Sep 5, 2019

An airplane prepares to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Thursday September 30, 2004. Air safety authorities say the runway setup at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport poses a serious risk of crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Adrian Wyld

SUMMARY

  • WestJet was fined $17,500, Air Canada was fined $12,500, Air Transat and Porter Airlines were fined $7,500 each
  • Air passenger protection regulations allow a fine of $25,000 per infraction

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A passenger rights advocate is calling the $45,000 fine imposed on four Canadian airlines a “token gesture,” saying regulations allow for them to be fined 10 times as much.

Gábor Lukács, founder of Air Passenger Rights, says the fine is a drop in the bucket for airlines and sends a clear signal to passengers.

“The message that this lousy fine is sending to the public and the airlines is that the regulator is not really wiling to enforce rights of passengers,” he says.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. was fined $17,500, Air Canada was fined $12,500, and Air Transat and Porter Airlines were fined $7,500 each for breaching federal regulations.

Air passenger protection regulations allow a fine of $25,000 per infraction, meaning the airlines could have been on the hook for a combined $450,000.

Lukácssays the announcement of the fines is nothing more than “smoke and mirrors,” strategically timed to try to convince Canadians that the current government cares about passenger right before the federal election.

The rule that the airlines violated was one that states airlines must display a notice at the check-in desk, self-service kiosks and departure gate that passengers who are denied boarding or whose luggage is lost or damaged may be entitled to compensation.

The regulator says airlines failed to alert travellers to their rights ahead of several flights out of Halifax, Quebec City, Calgary and Edmonton between July 22 and Aug. 7.

New rules came into effect July 15 beefing up compensation for passengers whose flights were delayed or luggage damaged, which have been met with criticism from both the industry and consumer advocates.

Under the new rules, airlines will now have to provide compensation — up to a maximum of $2,400 — to anyone bumped from a flight. Changes also mean airlines will have to compensate passengers if their flight is severely delayed, if their luggage is lost, or if flights are overbooked, as long as the situation is within the company’s control.

Airlines won’t fly Max 8 in Canada until 2020, at the earliest: How that affects you

News provided by CBC News – link to full story

Air Canada, Sunwing and now WestJet have said they won’t be flying their Max 8 planes this year

CBC News · Posted: Sep 05, 2019

A WestJet Boeing 737 Max 8 is seen at the Calgary International Airport in this file photo. (Janos Englert)

Calgary-based WestJet has announced it will keep its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft out of service during its winter schedule from Nov. 4 to Jan. 5, making it the latest Canadian carrier to commit to keeping the planes grounded until early 2020, at least.

Transport Canada has yet to give the jets permission to fly after Max 8 planes were grounded across the world in March, following two fatal crashes.

WestJet says the changes will show up on its website starting Sept. 8 and those with reservations affected by the update will be notified of any changes to their itinerary.

Air Canada and Sunwing Airlines have already announced they won’t be flying their Max 8 planes until next year.

Travel agent Lesley Keyter says those with bookings that might be affected should be diligent about keeping up to date on the status of their flights.

“If they’ve booked it directly, themselves, with the airline, they need to keep an eye out, keep their booking number, keep going to the website, keep checking their flights,” she said.

She also advised to make sure your email is entered properly with the airline’s booking system so that you receive any notifications that they send.

WestJet says it will work to substitute other aircraft, where possible, and notes it has maintained 98 per cent of total, planned departures since the Max 8 planes were grounded.

Aviation analyst Rick Erickson isn’t expecting major disruptions.

“They’ve been doing this all throughout the whole of the summer,” he said. “That means that they’re fairly well equipped to be able to operate with the challenge of quite a few number of seats no longer in their network.”

There’s still been no word on when the Max 8 might be recertified to fly in Canadian airspace.

With files from Dave Gilson

Airlines fined $45,000 for violating new passenger regulations

News provided by CTV News – link to full story

Vancouver International Airport
A Westjet Boeing 737-800, left, taxis past an Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319 at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday, April 28, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca Writer Thursday, September 5, 2019

Four major Canadian airlines have been fined for not complying with the new passenger protections that came into effect earlier this summer.

The Canadian Transportation Agency says Air Canada, WestJet, Porter Airlines and Air Transat have all been penalized since the rules changed on July 15.

In all cases, the airlines were found to have failed to display required notices to passengers. Airlines are required to display information about passenger rights at check-in counters, self-service check-in machines and boarding gates.

WestJet was fined $17,500 for seven violations, Air Canada was fined $12,500 for three, and Air Transat and Porter Airlines were each fined $7,500 for three violations apiece.

The new regulations hold airlines to a higher standard of treatment for passengers during tarmac delays, including requiring them to allow passengers to deplane if they have spent three hours waiting to take off and a take-off is not imminent. Airlines are also now required to have clear policies explaining how they handle luggage containing musical instruments.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has not taken any other disciplinary action against airlines since the new regulations came into effect.

Another round of passenger rights protections will take effect in December. At that point, airlines will be required to compensate passengers for any delays or cancellations within the airline’s control, as well as rebook or refund passengers whose flights are delayed – even if that means they have to buy them a ticket for a competing airline.

Air passenger advocates have argued that this will do little to help passengers. They note that a broad array of issues ranging from airport problems to medical emergencies to weather conditions can be cited for delays without the compensation requirement being triggered.

A spokesperson for Porter Airlines told CTVNews.ca that the company corrected the “minor communication issues” as soon as they were notified of the fines.

“Porter has dedicated significant resources to implementing the regulations on very short notice and we are making every effort to comply with the rules,” the spokesperson said.

A group of 17 airlines, including Air Canada and Porter, has filed a legal challenge against the regulations, arguing that the Canadian Transportation Authority does not have the power to implement them. The Federal Court of Appeal has agreed to hear the appeal.

Hundreds more flights cancelled as Hurricane Dorian swings north

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

Airports in Florida reopen but storm still disrupting travel along U.S. East Coast

CBC News · Posted: Sep 04, 2019

A passenger talks on the phone as American Airlines jets sit parked at their gates at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport in January 2016. The airline has issued a travel alert for 20 U.S. airports because of Hurricane Dorian. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

The impact on travelers from Hurricane Dorian lessened somewhat on Wednesday, even as the devastation from its wind and rain has yet to hit the U.S. mainland.

According to aviation monitoring website Flight Aware, U.S. airlines cancelled roughly 900 flights departing from or landing near the storm, which is currently off Florida’s east coast.

Those cancellations come on top of thousands more since the weekend, when the storm made landfall in the Bahamas.

Several airports in Florida closed as a precaution earlier this week, most notably Orlando’s, which handles tens of thousands of visitors every day.

Orlando International Airport closed on Tuesday but reopened around midday on Wednesday once it became clear the city would likely be clear of the worst of the storm as it heads north and east.

Theme parks were back to regular operating hours, for the most part. Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort opened for a full day on Wednesday after having closed early Tuesday. SeaWorld Orlando was reopening mid-morning Wednesday after being closed all day Tuesday.

Airports in Florida may be breathing a slight sigh of relief, but the anxiety is just moving north to new cities that could be in the storm’s path.

American Airlines has issued a travel alert for 20 U.S. airports, including eight coastal airports in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“Additionally, due to the size, strength and location of the hurricane, we will continue to experience a disruption to our operation throughout the week, specifically on flights that operate along the East Coast,” the airline said.

So far the impact on Canadian flights has been fairly limited, though WestJet, Air Canada and other charter airlines have cancelled a handful of flights to the area and rebooked passengers as a precaution.

Ottawa issued a travel advisory for the entire region on Wednesday, urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to a large area of the U.S., from Florida up to Virginia.

Flight information monitors show all flights cancelled as Orlando International Airport was closed on Tuesday and into Wednesday. (John Raoux/Associated Press)

With files from The Associated Press

Air Canada challenges WestJet-Onex deal; analyst says WestJet’s international ambitions viewed as a threat

News provided by the Calgary Herald – link to full story and updates

WestJet Airlines poses a significant competitive threat to Air Canada’s international business, said an analyst Tuesday, which may be the real reason the flag carrier has filed a formal challenge of Onex Corp.’s proposed acquisition of the Calgary-based airline.

AMANDA STEPHENSON, CALGARY HERALD, September 3, 2019

Tawfiq Popatia, a managing director at Onex, left, stands with WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims next to Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft in one of WestJet’s Calgary hangers on Monday May 13, 2019. GAVIN YOUNG / POSTMEDIA

WestJet Airlines poses a significant competitive threat to Air Canada’s international business, an analyst said Tuesday, which may be the real reason the flag carrier has filed a formal challenge of Onex Corp.’s proposed acquisition of the Calgary-based airline.

Toronto-based Onex’s planned $3.5-billion buyout of WestJet has received approval from the carrier’s shareholders and some regulators, but is still being reviewed by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

However, according to an Aug. 15 letter from Air Canada to the regulator, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, the Montreal-based airline is challenging the deal on grounds that it may not meet Canada’s foreign ownership rules. Under law, foreigners cannot own more than 49 per cent equity in a Canadian airline. The rules also restrict a foreign airline and any single foreign owner from controlling more than a quarter of voting interests in a Canadian carrier.

Air Canada suggested the likely presence of Onex co-investors, such as foreign wealth funds and carriers, and the “opaque nature” of the deal to buy WestJet through company subsidiary Kestrel Bidco will make it harder to ensure compliance with ownership laws.

“The uncertainty and flexibility of co-investor participation introduces significant risk that non-Canadian co-investors will have control-in-fact of WestJet following the transaction,” Air Canada said in its letter.

Air Canada declined to comment on the letter, as did WestJet, citing the fact the deal is still under regulatory review.

“Assuming the timely receipt of this approval, the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019,” WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email.

Robert Kokonis — president and managing partner of independent aviation consultancy AirTrav Inc. — said he has no knowledge of whether there is anything specific about the structure of Onex (which is based in Toronto and owned by billionaire Gerry Schwartz) that could create foreign ownership concerns.

However, Kokonis said Air Canada’s move is proof the airline is significantly concerned about WestJet’s growth ambitions. WestJet has set its sights on long-haul international routes with an order for 10 Boeing 787 jetliners set for delivery before 2022, with an option to buy 10 more.

Westjet’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner was opened up for media in Calgary to take a look at the interior on Thursday February 14, 2019. GAVIN YOUNG / POSTMEDIA

“Air Canada understands that the Onex deal is bringing a significant amount of financial strength to WestJet, to help support and propel forward the international expansion plans the WestJet management team has already brought forward,” Kokonis said. “If I’m Air Canada looking at that, I’m thinking, ‘wow, WestJet has been a pretty robust competitor domestically and now they’re moving into our turf, which is international.’ ”

The Canadian Transportation Agency said it is aware of the issues raised in Air Canada’s letter.

“The process underway will allow the CTA to determine whether the proposed transaction will result in an undertaking that is Canadian,” the agency said by email.

In a statement, Onex said it is “pleased to have already received approval from the Minister of Transport and the Competition Bureau for the WestJet transaction. Onex is engaged with the CTA on the regulatory approval process of our transaction.”

— With files from Reuters

Hurricane Dorian plays havoc with travellers as more than 1,000 flights cancelled today

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

More delays and cancellations expected as Bahamas slammed and hurricane is off Florida coast

CBC News · Posted: Sep 03, 2019

Hurricane Dorian has resulted in the cancellation of flights including hundreds outbound from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach airports in Florida. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

The massive hurricane hitting the Bahamas and off the Florida coast is throwing travel plans for hundreds of thousands of people into disarray, as Dorian has resulted in the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights in and around its path on Tuesday alone.

Flight-tracking website Flight Aware says 638 flights outbound from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach airports in Florida have been cancelled, along with almost as many inbound flights to those cities. Those cancellations are on top of flights that were cancelled through the weekend.

Even Canadian airlines are impacted.

Calgary-based WestJet has cancelled its flights to Fort Lauderdale “until it is safe to resume flying” and in the meantime is allowing anyone travelling to parts of Florida or Nassau to rebook without any added fees.

Air Canada, meanwhile, is allowing passengers travelling through Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas to rebook, and is waiving flight change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to various airports in Florida and Georgia.

Bahamian media reported Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport was submerged. The airport in the capital of Nassau, which is further south, was operational.

Hurricane Dorian has walloped the Bahamas, causing widespread damage and at least five deaths. The hurricane, which has weakened to a Category 3, has essentially parked itself over the Caribbean island, worsening the damage there, but most forecasting models projected the storm to move west, as it is currently doing, before curling up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

That would likely cause a cascading effect across the North American travel network, as thousands of flights in new cities so far unaffected are rerouted.

Delta has issued a travel waiver that extends into next week for anyone taking a Delta flight to Georgia, or South and North Carolina. The waiver means passengers will be able to rebook their travel plans without a fee.