Swoop ‘seeing light at the end of the tunnel’ after incredibly difficult 15 months

From CBC News – link to source story

‘People are clearly willing and able to book that long-awaited trip,’ airline executive says

Desmond Brown · CBC News · Jun 18, 2021

Swoop, operated by WestJet, launched in Hamilton back in 2018 with a trip from Hamilton to Abbotsford, B.C. for just $129. (Swoop)

Low-cost airline Swoop is on the rebound, head of commercial and finance Bert van der Stege said Friday, after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to van der Stege, the carrier lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue and roughly 90 per cent of its passenger volume over the course of the pandemic. 

“The past 15 months or so have been incredibly difficult,” van der Stege said during an executive exchange held virtually with Hamilton International Airport.

“It’s been a difficult 15 months [but] we believe we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel now and have reached a turning point.”

Van der Stege said a “great demand” for seats is “slowly coming back”. 

“We’ve seen a period of record sales again now. People are clearly willing and able to book that long-awaited trip,” he said.

This summer we expect to serve five destinations within Canada from Hamilton airport, and then as we approach the following winter season we will be adding five international destinations from Hamilton.- Bert van der Stege, Swoop Airline

Van der Stege said Swoop will initially focus on domestic travel as it emerges from the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that’s where they expect the rebound to start. 

He said sales and forecast passenger numbers “are picking up really nicely, in particular in and out of jurisdictions that have outlined a clear path to recovery, easing travel restrictions, [and] a path to open up based on science.”

After that initial period of domestic recovery and domestic travel, van der Stege said Swoop will once again partner with Hamilton International Airport and open up international travel.

“This summer we expect to serve five destinations within Canada from Hamilton airport, and then as we approach the following winter season we will be adding five international destinations from Hamilton.”

Swoop will launch a new flight from Hamilton to Kelowna this Sunday, while the winter schedule will include the following:

  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
  • Cancun, Mexico.
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Orlando and Tampa Bay, Florida.
Swoop’s head of commercial and finance Bert van der Stege. (CBC)

Swoop, operated by WestJet, launched in Hamilton back in 2018 with a trip from Hamilton to Abbotsford, B.C. for just $129.

Since its inception the airline has carried more than one million passengers in and out of Hamilton airport. In total, Swoop has transported more than three million passengers.

The airline has also created more than 500 direct jobs at Hamilton’s John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport

“With the two brands, WestJet and Swoop being present here in Hamilton, we believe that we can assist in the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry sector, not just focusing on getting Hamiltonians out of Hamilton using Hamilton airport, but also bringing visitors back,” van der Stege said.

With the airline seeing sales “on par with pre-COVID levels,” van der Stege said they will be adding another Boeing 737 to the fleet by the end of the year.

Cathie Puckering, president and CEO of Hamilton’s John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. (CBC)

Cathie Puckering, president and CEO of Hamilton’s John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, said the number of passengers that Swoop has put into the market in such a short time “was amazing.”

She said Hamilton experienced almost a 70 per cent decline in passenger volumes last year due to COVID-19.

Puckering said this year is just as hard but she is confident that things will get back to normal.

“The aviation industry has had shocks and has been hurt before [but] it has been resilient and we have bounced back,” Puckering said.

“So as long as we continue with the vaccine rollout and we continue to follow the restrictions and the measures … travel will recover and we’re optimistic about what the future will hold and Swoop’s growth in Hamilton.”

US-Canada Border Closure Extended Until Late July

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Sumit Singh | June 18, 2021

It has been a year and three months since a ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada was first imposed. Now, airlines and passengers looking to head over the border between the two countries will have to wait until at least July 21st.

Air Canada New York
Air Canada won’t be flying non-essential passengers across the Canada-US for at least another month. Photo: Getty Images

Another wait

There are high hopes for a change as airline advocacy groups on both sides of the border have been putting pressure on authorities to open things up. There were also hints of progress with Canadian Health Minister Patty Hadju talking of a phased reopening plan last week. Additionally, US congressman and co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus Brian Higgins shared that US President Joe Biden is keen for the border to open up.

Despite these glimmers of hope, those wanting to fly between the US and Canada for non-essential reasons will have to wait for at least over a month. Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair confirmed the news on Twitter.

Our number one priority as we fight #COVID19 is keeping Canadians safe. In coordination with the U.S., we are extending restrictions on non-essential international travel and with the United States until July 21st, 2021.

— Bill Blair (@BillBlair) June 18, 2021

A change of approach

Both US and Canadian carriers refocused their attention on domestic services following the restrictions set by the global health crisis. However, international activity now is seeing gradual improvement in the US following the easing of requirements to certain destinations. However, continued stringent restrictions in Canada are causing airlines in the country to continue their concentration on the domestic market through the summer.

WestJet Getty
The travel restrictions have been renewed on a monthly basis since March 2020. Photo: Getty Images

WestJet announced its domestic recovery in spring with 11 routes. Moreover, Swoop has been deploying its Boeing 737 aircraft to national vacation spots. Flair Airlines is also concentrating its new 737 MAX aircraft between its Canadian bases. After the border reopens, the ultra-low-cost carrier’s aircraft will also be seen in the US, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

This spring, Canadian aviation activity has been down by up to approximately 90% in capacity levels. In contrast, US domestic leisure travel is already seeing strong returns, with load factors at around 90%. So, overall, Canada’s aviation industry is feeling the impact of the pandemic much more than its neighbors in recent months.

Delta American LAX
US carriers have had a head start over their Canadian counterparts. Photo: Getty Images

Looking ahead

Nonetheless, Blair shared that there are plans in the works for some extra travel to restart this summer. The MP for Scarborough Southwest shared the following on Twitter.

“As we have said, the government is planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, Permanent Residents, and others who are currently permitted to enter Canada and will provide further details on Monday, June 21.”

Airline advocacy groups supporting the relaxation of restrictions are looking to end quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, end hotel quarantine policies for all travelers, and reduce quarantine for partially and vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Furthermore, they want a clear pathway to the reopening of consistent travel. These groups will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on further announcements in the coming weeks.

WestJet brings together Vancouver Island tourism industry to talk safe travel restart

Thanks to CW

WestJet

By WestJet | June 17, 2021

When more than 70 virtual guests gathered at WestJet’s second Restart Roundtable for Vancouver Island, it was clear that the industry from the Minister of Transportation, Rob Fleming to the CEOs of Comox, Nanaimo and Victoria airports to community and business leaders were eager to discuss the need to safely restart of tourism to and from the island.

WestJet is proud of its history of investment and market stimulation on Vancouver Island.  Prior to COVID-19, the visitor economy generated a whopping $2.2 billion annually for the Island’s economy, making tourism either first or second on the list of economic drivers in every community in the region.

COVID-19 brought the travel and tourism industry to its knees as borders shut and travel was discouraged. From March 2020 through now, for the most part tour operators, hotels, restaurants, conference centres, taxis and more have sat still and a large part of the population who are employed directly or indirectly in the industry continue to be impacted.

For many of the thousands of Islanders who have been waiting to get back to work, a recent announcement from the Government of British Columbia on safely reopening the province to tourism, was a welcome step forward.

Tourism Victoria

“A safe reopening is critical for the cities on Vancouver Island, all of which have lost their most lucrative markets,” said Paul Nursey, CEO Destination Greater Victoria. 

“We thank WestJet for the restart initiative; from hosting this meeting to investing in more than 255 flights to and from the Island this summer to stimulate travel and restart this important sector of our economy.”

“While WestJet continued essential service throughout the pandemic to Comox, Nanaimo and Victoria, we are grateful to have the Government of British Columbia’s clear reopening plan,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice President. “Working from a well-defined starting point has allowed WestJet and Swoop to add six new routes to and from the Island this summer to stimulate travel and directly support the Province’s and the Islands safe return of its visitor economy.”

Downtown Victoria

WestJet has invested in the visitor economy of the Island for 25 years since first flying to Victoria in its inaugural year followed by Comox in 1997 and Nanaimo in 2013. Over the past 10 years to the province’s capital city alone, the airline has provided a 30 per cent guest growth and flown more than seven million guests to and from the island. This summer, the WestJet Group’s ultra-low-cost carrier, Swoop, is also flying between Victoria and Edmonton.

“Today’s restart roundtable was a significant milestone as we collectively work together to ensure that British Columbians can explore Canada and reconnect with family and friends this summer,” said Bert van der Stege, Head of Commercial & Finance, Swoop. “We are grateful to our partners who share in our commitment to the safe restart of travel and tourism within Canada and look forward to supporting the economic recovery of the region through our ultra-low-cost service to Edmonton and Toronto from Victoria.”

Canadian airlines return to Puerto Vallarta after 4-month hiatus

From Mexico Daily News – link to source story

Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are looking forward to the Canadians coming back. Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are looking forward to the Canadians coming back.

Canadian airlines return to Puerto Vallarta after 4-month hiatus

One airline has already reactivated flights, and three more have confirmed dates

Published on Thursday, June 17, 2021

Canadian airlines are reactivating flights to Puerto Vallarta after a four-month suspension.

Westjet reinitiated its flights to the Jalisco beach destination on June 5, and Air Canada will be next with the reopening of its Vancouver route on August 1.

Low cost airline Swoop plans to restart its Hamilton and Edmonton flights October 5, and its Abbotsford and Toronto routes on November 3. It will also inaugurate a new route from Winnipeg on November 4.

Transat will relaunch flights from Toronto and Montreal in November.

Sunwing is still yet to inform clients of its plans to reopen, but has previously announced it hopes to reestablish its Mexico routes in December.

Marc Murphy, lead of the Riviera Nayarit Visitors and Conventions Office, said Canadians would be happy for the change of climate. “Each year, thousands of Canadians travel to this region to escape the intense winter cold and find an enviable climate, the most beautiful beaches … and a great quality hotel offering,” he said.

With reports from Reportur

Vacation packages from WestJet and Air Canada among prizes for COVID-19 double-dosed Albertans

From Canoe.com – link to source story

By Anna Junker   •  Jun 16, 2021  

Pharmacist Alison Davison prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy on 17 Ave. S.W. in Calgary on Friday, March 5, 2021.
Pharmacist Alison Davison prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy on 17 Ave. S.W. in Calgary on Friday, March 5, 2021. PHOTO BY AZIN GHAFFARI/POSTMEDIA

Two all-inclusive seven-day trips for two to Mexico are among travel prizes for Albertans who receive two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Along with three separate draws for $1 million, Alberta’s Open for Summer Lottery is also offering 40 travel-related prizes provided by WestJet and Air Canada. The prizes range from stays at luxury resorts, to flights across Canada and abroad as well as points giveaways.

The packages offered by WestJet and Air Canada will be included in the August lottery draw for people who receive both vaccine doses. To enter, individuals must be age 18 or older. They can register online and must have received a first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine before registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 24. Winners for the travel packages will be announced on Aug. 31.

“Alberta’s government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated so we can put this pandemic behind us,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a news release.

“I would like to thank WestJet and Air Canada for providing yet another reason for eligible Albertans to get protected. In turn, we want Albertans to get their vaccines as soon as possible so we can fully open for summer and open for good.”

According to Alberta Health, the Open for Summer Lottery is supported by the AGLC and modelled on the lottery rules in the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act. The lottery does not require AGLC registration because tickets are not purchased.

Prize money for the lottery will come from the Alberta Health budget.

WestJet prizes

  • One WestJet vacation package for two to Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort, including round-trip economy flights and a seven-night all-inclusive stay.
  • One voucher for two people to fly round trip, business class, anywhere in WestJet’s network.
  • 10 vouchers for two people to fly round trip, economy class, anywhere in Canada.
  • Three giveaways of 1,500 WestJet dollars.
  • Five giveaways of WestJet Rewards Gold Status.

Air Canada prizes

  • One Air Canada vacation package for two to Planet Hollywood Cancun, including round-trip economy flights and a seven-night all-inclusive stay.
  • One voucher for two people to fly round trip, business class, anywhere in Air Canada’s network.
  • 10 vouchers for two people to fly round trip, economy class, anywhere in Canada.
  • Three giveaways of 100,000 Aeroplan bonus points.
  • Five giveaways of Aeroplan 50K Status.

Many Canadian airline customers still awaiting refunds for flights cancelled amid pandemic

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

ERIC ATKINS, TRANSPORTATION REPORTER | JUNE 13, 2021

Canada’s airlines gave credits – rather than cash back – to customers whose uninsured tickets were cancelled in the pandemic. FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

More than a year into the pandemic, some Canadian airline customers are still awaiting refunds on cancelled flights.

Unlike their global rivals, Canada’s airlines gave credits – rather than cash back – to customers whose uninsured tickets were cancelled in the pandemic. The airlines pointed to a statement from the Canadian Transportation Agency that said credits were an acceptable remedy given the financial hardships the airlines faced in the pandemic.

Financial aid from taxpayers unveiled by the government in April allowed Air Canada and Transat AT Inc. to give refunds for flights and tickets cancelled beginning in mid-March, 2020, when countries closed borders, told people not to travel to limit the spread of COVID-19 and imposed quarantines on people returning from abroad.

Canada’s airlines halted flights, cancelling billions of dollars worth of airfares.

But Porter Airlines and Sunwing Airlines have still not offered refunds for most cancelled flights, and WestJet Airlines has restricted its refunds to tickets the airline cancelled – not the customer.

The three airlines and government say bailout talks are taking place, but will not say when agreements will bereached, nor when customers will get their money back.

WestJet has said it would not take a government loan, but might agree to a government-backed line of credit that would pay for refunds, according to a person familiar with the matter whom The Globe and Mail is not naming because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Margaret Jones of River John, N.S., is waiting for a refund worth $4,630 for a Sunwing Vacations trip she had planned to take with her husband in March, 2020. The trip included a Sunwing flight from Halifax to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and several days aboard a cruise ship.

She has a credit for the amount of the trip, but prefers to get her money back as she has no plans to travel. “My husband’s not in the greatest of health,” Ms. Jones said in a phone interview. “He’s 84 and I’m 78 – we definitely don’t want to go on a cruise in the future, and if we take a vacation we don’t want to go to a resort that is full of people from all over the world and you don’t know whether they have had vaccinations.”

Sunwing received a government loan worth as much as $375-million in February through a pandemic program called the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – the same program Air Canada and Transat tapped to provide refunds to their customers.

But rather than offer refunds, the government allowed Sunwing to hold money in an account from customers whose flights were cancelled “until a policy is established for the treatment of these prepaid amounts,” the government said in February.

“Sunwing supposedly has all this money in an account somewhere – gaining interest, no doubt – and supposedly will be returning it at some point, but what we all need to know is: When?” Ms. Jones said. “We’re fed up with waiting.”

Sunwing spokesperson Melanie Filipp said talks with the government are continuing. “We look forward to continuing discussions on the issue of refunds for customers with non-refundable bookings who have received a future travel credit amid the pandemic,” she said.

Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, declined to comment on talks with Sunwing, Porter and WestJet, or when aid packages could be announced. Ms. Kuplinskas reiterated the government’s statement that any aid for airlines will come with conditions that include refunds for customers.

Brad Cicero, a spokesman for Porter Airlines, said the Toronto-based airline is in talks for a LEEFF loan, but added that details are confidential and a resolution date in unknown.

WestJet has yet to provide refunds for people who cancelled their own ticket, but in October became the first Canadian airline to offer refunds for uninsured seats on flights the carrier cancelled.

“WestJet took this step without having received government support, unlike many of our global competitors,” WestJet spokesperson Morgan Bell said.

Taxpayers gave Air Canada a loan worth as much as $1.4-billion to provide customer refunds, part of a $5.9-billion government bailout the airline received. The airline said on June 10 that 40 per cent of 1.8 million eligible customers had applied for a refund.

Transat received a government bailout worth $700-million, $310-million of which is to pay for refunds. Annick Guérard, Transat’s chief executive officer, said on June 10 that customers have applied for 64 per cent of the total amount.

Transat’s decision to withhold refunds and offer credits until the government provided a loan was necessary for the health of the airline, which has not flown since January, “but not one that we have made with a light heart,” Ms. Guérard said.

WestJet introduces service to Amsterdam from Calgary

New flight to begin August 5 on airline’s 787 Dreamliner

CALGARY, AB, June 14, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced that it is expanding its international network to include one of the world’s most connected cities, Amsterdam, Netherlands. As the airline with the most flights from Calgary, the new service from WestJet’s hub will operate on the 787 Dreamliner, starting August 5, 2021.

“We are committed to putting international investments in place, as leaders of the travel and tourism industry, to support a safe restart to international travel and further Canada’s economic recovery,” said John Weatherill, WestJet, Chief Commercial Officer. “With flights set to begin later this summer, we look forward to helping connect Canadians to their loved ones in Europe, while continuing to provide affordable options for those who want to visit or reconnect with friends and family across our great country.”

WestJet’s service between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and Calgary International Airport (YYC) will operate two-times weekly beginning August 5, 2021 and will increase to three-times weekly as of September 9.

“Alberta is ready to be open for summer, and this announcement from WestJet shows how close we are to having international travellers come back to Alberta,” said Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, Innovation, Government of Alberta. “New routes will boost our tourism industry when it needs it most and once again showcase Alberta to the world with safe travel.”

“This year, our guests will have another direct option from Calgary to a bustling centre of commerce and culture,” said Bob Sartor, President & CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority. “WestJet’s new route from their home and hub at YYC to Amsterdam, will connect Calgarians to Europe and Europeans to Alberta through one of the best connected airports in the world.”

The route will be operated on WestJet’s 787 Dreamliner, featuring the airline’s lie-flat seats available in the business cabin along with on-demand dining and entertainment. The new service is timed to ensure that transatlantic flights departing from Calgary to Amsterdam are scheduled to support late-day departures and daytime arrivals. Convenient connections are available via Amsterdam to dozens of world-class destinations, including Athens, Berlin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Vienna, Venice and more.

“We are excited by the return of important international air routes to Alberta,” said David Goldstein, CEO, Travel Alberta. “While we have had a long, warm relationship with Dutch travellers looking to explore our part of the world, Amsterdam is also a key feeder hub for travellers from all across Europe.  We look forward to working with WestJet as they broaden their global routes to Alberta.”

787 service to London, Gatwick returns in July

As of July, WestJet will be operating to London, Gatwick (LGW) from Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ). Service from Calgary will operate two-times weekly, while flights from Toronto will depart three-times weekly.

With Safety Above All, WestJet launched its Travel Ready Series aimed to welcome guests back to travel. Travel Ready was created to ensure guests are equipped and prepared with the information they need to enjoy a smooth and safe return to the skies.

Details of WestJet’s service between Calgary and Amsterdam:

RouteFrequencyStart Date
Calgary – Amsterdam2x weeklyAug. 5 – Sept. 5, 2021
3x weeklySept. 9 – October 31, 2021
Amsterdam – Calgary2x weeklyAug. 6 – Sept. 6, 2021
3x weeklySept. 10 – November 1, 2021

Details of WestJet’s service to London, Gatwick:

RouteFrequency
Calgary – London, Gatwick2x weekly
Toronto – London, Gatwick3x weekly

About WestJet 
In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

Comox Valley Airport CEO cautiously optimistic about summer

From Comox Valley Record – link to source story – Thanks to CW

Airlines, increased schedule returns to the Comox Valley Airport

ERIN HALUSCHAK | Jun. 10, 2021

The Comox Valley Airport is hoping travel may increase this summer as passengers become more comfortable flying again. File photo

The Comox Valley Airport is hoping travel may increase this summer as passengers become more comfortable flying again. File photo

Looking ahead at the summer, Mike Atkins is cautiously optimistic.

He knows there is pent-up demand for travel, but understands there needs to be a level of comfort and safety for passengers with pandemic and post-pandemic travel, particularly in aviation.

Atkins is the chief executive officer of the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ), a role he took over in the midst of the pandemic in October 2020. While he is relatively new at the position, as the former 19 Wing commander, he understands not only the Comox Valley but the aviation industry as well.

As with other airports across the country and world, passenger numbers have plummeted throughout the past year, but he is hopeful some signals from airlines operating out of the airport indicate signs of recovery to the hard-hit industry.

“Starting at the end of the month, all airlines (from YQQ) have a very aggressive schedule,” he noted. “We’ll go from very little to having four airplanes remaining overnight.”

Atkins said as a whole, the airport was always able to remain fully staffed since the start of the pandemic, thanks to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which assisted in covering more than $700,000 in wages. They also received funding from the provincial government for ongoing operational costs and have applied for funding through the Regional Air Transportation Initiative, a $206-million federal government program to aid in the return in services in regional air transportation.

At the start of the pandemic, YQQ lost services from Air Canada; Pacific Coastal Airlines paused their operations to and from the airport to Vancouver for about a month and while WestJet reduced their flight frequency, they did not pause their service and continue to service the airport.

“(At the end of the month) Pacific Coastal will offer three flights daily, WestJet will fly to Calgary twice a day and will have a direct to Edmonton flight, along with WestJet link (to Vancouver) and a direct flight to Toronto. Right now, Air Canada will fly three days a week, and that may change to daily service,” said Atkins.

In terms of the return of the Comox to Puerto Vallarta direct flight in the fall, Atkins noted there is still uncertainly around international travel as he is unsure what government regulations may be in place by then.

“We are always looking at new routes and opportunities,” he added.

With hopes of travellers returning, one of the main projects currently underway at the terminal building is the relocation of the pre-board screening area. Atkins explained the goal is to increase the distance between passengers in addition to the holding room, particularly when there are multiple flights arriving and departing.

On June 23, the Comox Valley Airport will host their virtual annual general meeting at 3 p.m. For more information, visit comoxairport.com.

WestJet to offer Canadians the most flights to Hawaii this winter

Airline flying more flights than any other Canadian airline with additional Dreamliner service and new direct flights from Calgary to Kona and Lihue

CALGARY, AB, June 10, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced significant growth to its Hawaii network, featuring more Dreamliner flight options from Western Canada to Maui and new non-stop service from Calgary to Kona and Lihue this winter. With 57 weekly roundtrip flights on 10 nonstop routes, WestJet offers more service between Canada and Hawaii than any other airline.

“With easing travel restrictions, we know our guests are planning to turn their long-awaited Hawaiian getaway dreams into a well-deserved reality.” said John Weatherill, WestJet, Chief Commercial Officer. “We’ve increased our winter service to Hawaii by more than 25 per cent from 2019 to ensure our guests have increased flexibility and the most affordable, non-stop options from Western Canada.”

New service from Calgary to Kona and Lihue

WestJet is adding new weekly non-stop service from Calgary (YYC) to Kona (KOA) and Lihue (LIH) beginning in December. With the addition of the new service, WestJet will offer service to four Hawaiian destinations non-stop from Calgary and two from Edmonton.

“Our guests will love to say aloha to the additional direct flights to tropical Hawaii,” said Bob Sartor, President & CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority. “We’re ready to welcome guests back safely to the home and hub of WestJet and we look forward to the added sunny winter options for Albertans and connecting passengers from out of province.”

More 787 Dreamliner options

Starting this winter, WestJet will add 787 Dreamliner service from Calgary and Vancouver to Kahului, Maui (OGG) with 13 weekly flights. WestJet’s 787 service to Maui from Western Canada is conveniently scheduled with daytime departures to ensure guests arrive in Maui in the early afternoon, with time to make the most out of their plans. The airline’s signature Dreamliner service features lie-flat seats with on-demand dining and entertainment.

“Like the Kolea bird, many Canadians return each year to the Hawaiian Islands during the winter months,” said David Y. Ige, Governor, Hawaii. “They respect the people, place and culture, and we welcome them back. Increased international passengers can help us better balance the needs of our residents and visitors. Mahalo to WestJet for partnering with the state to keep residents and visitors alike safe and healthy.”

“We are very happy with the launch of WestJet’s additional routes to Hawai’i,” said  Lorenzo Campos, Account Director for Hawai’i Tourism Canada. “We would like to thank WestJet for being our trusted partner and for their continuous support of The Hawaiian Island and sharing the aloha spirit and always embracing the Hawaiian value of malama. We are looking forward to welcoming our Canadian family back this winter.” 

Current Hawaii entrance requirements can be found at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/.

Earlier this week, WestJet launched its Travel Ready Series aimed to welcome guests back to travel. Travel Ready was created to ensure guests are equipped and prepared with the information they need to enjoy a smooth and safe return to the skies.

WestJet route and schedule frequency

Market787 Peak Frequency737 Peak FrequencyEffective
Calgary-Maui6x weekly1x weeklyNovember 5, 2021
Calgary-Honolulu7x weeklyDecember 3, 2021
Calgary-Kona*1x weeklyDecember 19, 2021
Calgary-Lihue*1x weeklyDecember 19, 2021
Vancouver – Maui**7x weekly3x weeklyOctober 31, 2021
Vancouver-Honolulu**14x weeklyOctober 31, 2021
Vancouver-Kona7x weeklyOctober 31, 2021
Vancouver-Lihue7x weeklyOctober 31, 2021
Edmonton-Maui2x weeklyDecember 12, 2021
Edmonton-Honolulu1x weeklyDecember 18, 2021

*New routes added to WestJet’s winter schedule serving Hawaii.

**Service currently operating in WestJet’s summer schedule.

About WestJet 

In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

WestJet announces the retirement of President and CEO, Ed Sims

CALGARY, AB, June 9, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today, announced that President and CEO, Ed Sims, will retire at the end of 2021. In four years with WestJet, Mr. Sims was responsible for the successful introduction of the company’s Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft, the launch of two new airline ventures, the significant expansion of WestJet’s international network, as well as the continued growth of WestJet Vacations, WestJet Cargo and the WestJet Rewards program.

Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Ed Sims will remain as President and Chief Executive, as well as a member of the WestJet Group board of directors until December 2021. Moving forward, he will continue in a senior advisory role with Onex Partners focused on aerospace and aviation.

“I want to thank Ed for his contributions to WestJet’s strategy and growth initiatives over the past four years,” said Chris Burley, Chairman of WestJet’s board of directors. “Ed has led WestJet through the worst crisis in aviation history and will see us through to the end of 2021. We owe our relative strength and stability in no small measure to Ed’s leadership and steady hand. On a personal note, we’re pleased that Ed will be able to rejoin his family in New Zealand at the end of the year.”   

“My time with WestJet has been an absolute career highlight and a privilege in my 35 years in the travel and aviation industries,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “The global pandemic and the ongoing travel restrictions have separated so many of us for so long from loved ones. With two children in New Zealand, I am prioritizing the needs of family who I will not have seen in two years. I would like to thank WestJet’s founder Clive Beddoe, Onex and past and current board members and my Executive Leadership team who have all been tremendously supportive. My special thanks go to the remarkable group of people who call themselves WestJetters for everything they have achieved.”

“Ed was a critical part of Onex’ investment in WestJet,” said Tawfiq Popatia, a WestJet board member and Senior Managing Director at Onex. “With the WestJet transaction closing in December 2019 and the pandemic hitting Canada in February the following year, we had only a few weeks between closing and the onset of the pandemic and it’s hard to overstate the importance of Ed’s leadership through this exceptionally challenging period. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Ed.”

The board of directors of WestJet has commenced a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.

A video from Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO, is available for download here.

About WestJet 
In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.