Airline continues to focus on significant safety and hygiene enhancements to ensure a safe travel journey
CALGARY, AB, June 15, 2020 /CNW/ – WestJet today released its updated July schedule, developed to allow Canadians the pleasure of summer travel while economically supporting communities across the country in safely reopening travel and domestic tourism. In addition, the airline has added flights to select U.S. markets.
To ensure guests can book with confidence, the airline maintains its stringent Safety Above All hygiene program and continues to provide flexibility in booking, change and cancellation policies.
“Today’s schedule reflects our commitment to orderly and safe travel while providing steps to allow Canadians to get out, explore, and take part in critical economic activities like staying in hotels, eating out, visiting tourist attractions or simply just travelling to see friends and family,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “Governments and Canadians from coast-to-coast are working together to lessen the impact of this pandemic and we are grateful that these efforts have put us in a position to add more options for travel this July.”
From July 5 through August 4, 2020, WestJet will offer operations to 45 destinations including 39 in Canada, five in the U.S. and one in Mexico an increase of approximately 102 per cent more flights from June, but down 76 per cent from July 2019.
Continued von zur Muehlen, “As we emerge from the pandemic, health vigilance must be balanced with the gradual reopening of our economy. WestJet has done our part and spent millions of dollars to ensure the safety and well-being of our guests and our people. We’re ready to get Canadians flying.”
On March 22, WestJet suspended its international and transborder operations. The airline’s schedule now contains flights to key transborder and international destinations including Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL) and Las Vegas (LAS).
“Jurisdictions around the world are opening, allowing citizens to begin flying once again which is kickstarting their economies for recovery. We’ve heard from the communities we serve and look forward to having Canadians safely participate and stimulate domestic tourism this summer,” stated von zur Muehlen.
At this time, the airline is planning on operating the following domestic routes and frequencies from July 5 – August 4.
OTTAWA, THE CANADIAN PRESS, PUBLISHED JUNE 1, 2020
The Royal Canadian Air Force says it’s focusing on a bird strike as the reason a Snowbird plane crashed in British Columbia last month.
A preliminary investigation report posted today says a close look at video footage of the plane just before the crash showed a bird very close to the plane’s right engine intake “during the critical phase of take-off.”
The crash near Kamloops killed air force Capt. Jenn Casey, a public-affairs officer riding as a passenger, and seriously injured the pilot.
Though the plane crashed in a populated area, nobody on the ground was badly injured.
The Snowbirds were on a cross-country tour at the time of the crash, performing over cities and towns to try to raise morale a little amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The air force’s report says the investigation will continue to probe the possibility of a bird strike and whether the Tutor jet’s escape devices worked properly.
Traffic down more than 96 per cent in Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George
CBC News · Posted: May 27, 2020
Passenger traffic is significantly down at airports throughout B.C.’s Interior due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions around the globe — Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George’s airports all saw drops of at least 96 per cent in April compared to 2019.
Last year, two million passengers passed through the Kelowna International Airport, making it one of the busiest airports in the country. Approximately 155,000 of those passengers travelled in April 2019.
In April 2020, 5,706 passengers were recorded, equalling a drop of about 96 per cent.
“It’s been devastating,” airport director Sam Sammadar told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.
“I’ve been at the airport 28 years and seeing our traffic grow steadily. We’re one of the top-performing airports in the country.”
Kelowna’s airport is down to eight flights per day, and Sammadar said they’ve let go 80 per cent of staff.
Sammadar said the airport is projecting 2020 numbers to be similar to those of 1997. He doesn’t expect traffic levels to be restored to 2019 levels until the winter of 2023.
Traffic at the Prince George Airport in northern B.C. is also down by 96 per cent, but unlike Kelowna, no staff have been laid off, according to CEO Gordon Duke.
“Pretty tough to see, but not totally unexpected given what we saw happening across the industry not only in Canada, but globally,” Duke said.
He anticipates recovery to begin, in a small way, in June.
The decrease is highest in Kamloops. In April 2019 the airport saw 28,299 passengers and in the same period this year, a mere 493, a decrease of 98.3 per cent. Year to date, the airport is down 29 per cent.
Airport director Ed Ratuski expects minimal improvement in numbers for May, and said recovery is largely dependent on travel restrictions being loosened.
Items to be distributed among Snowbirds, Capt. Jenn Casey’s family and Capt. Richard MacDougall
Courtney Dickson · CBC News · Posted: May 27, 2020
The memorial set up by Kamloops, B.C., residents honouring the victims of a fatal Snowbirds plane crash in the city on the Victoria Day long weekend will be taken down Friday.
Capt. Jenn Casey was killed May 17 when the jet she was travelling in went down shortly after take off from the Kamloops airport. Capt. Richard MacDougall, who was also in the plane but managed to successfully eject, was sent to hospital with injuries but is now home in Moose Jaw, Sask., and is expected to make a full recovery.
The Snowbirds were in Kamloops as part of a cross-country tour called Operation Inspiration, meant to salute Canadians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the crash, hundreds of flowers, hearts, art and messages of condolences were attached to the fence along the airport as residents turned out to pay their respects to Casey, MacDougall and the Snowbirds.
The City of Kamloops, the Kamloops Airport and Rocky Mountain Rangers will work collaboratively to remove the memorial. Eventually, items will be divided up among the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Casey’s family and MacDougall.
Lt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Comox, said a small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets for as long as they need to be
Michael Potestio /KTW / Kamloops This Week / MAY 22, 2020
The red and white Snowbirds remain on the ground until the cause of the crash is determined. Snowbirds commanding officer Lieut.-Col. Mike French has said the investigation could take up to a year to complete.Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO/KTW
Some members of the Snowbirds team will call Kamloops home, remaining in the city to look after their CT-114 Tutor jets that remain grounded indefinitely on Fulton Field at Kamloops Airport.
On May 17, one of the jets crashed in Brocklehurst shortly after takeoff, claiming the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injuring Capt. Richard MacDougall who was piloting the plane. Both managed to eject from the plan before it crashed, but Casey succumbed to injuries suffered in the incident. article continues below
The Snowbirds were on a cross-Canada tour called Operation Inspiration, intended to salute frontline health-care workers and lift the spirits of the public amid the pandemic. The tour, which began on May 3 in Nova Scotia, has been suspended due to the tragedy.
Lt. Alexandra Hejduk, public affairs officer for 19 Wing Comox, said most members of the Snowbirds have now departed the city for Moose Jaw — the Snowbirds’ home base — via a Hercules plane, but a small contingent is staying behind, acting as stewards of the jets for as long as they need to be.
Hejduk said those team members will remain at whatever local hotel they have been staying, with the military covering the cost.
They are also supporting MacDougall, who is recovering at Royal Inland Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Hejduk couldn’t comment on the role MacDougall will play in determining the cause of the crash, but noted the investigative team is interviewing all witnesses, MacDougall being one of them.
Hejduk said the red and white Snowbirds remain on the ground until the cause of the crash is determined. Snowbirds commanding officer Lieut.-Col. Mike French has said the investigation could take up to a year to complete.
Military investigators arrived in Kamloops on May 18 and the wreckage of the plane was cleared from the crash site on Glenview Avenue by May 21.
First Military Police Regiment from Edmonton, with the assistance of the Rocky Mountain Rangers and Joint Task Force Pacific, secured the site, and the RCAF’s 19 Wing Comox aided with recovering the wreckage.
Hejduk said military personnel have some logistics and loose ends to tie up before departing Kamloops by the weekend. The wreckage will be transported to Ottawa.
Police tape at the crash site has been moved back to just outside the Glenview Avenue home the jet struck. One side of the house, which Hejduk said has been handed back to the homeowners, is charred and boarded up, with a few holes in the roof.
Footage of the crash site release on social media showed flaming wreckage up against that side of the home and what appeared to be the tail of the plane across the street.
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s directorate of flight safety team began its preliminary field investigation on May 18, amassing evidence and removing the wreckage from the site to be transported to a secure location, catalogued and analyzed, Hejduk said.
She said there is no timeline for completion of the investigation, noting people have been asking how long it will be before there are answers.
“Those members need to be able to do everything in the most thorough, objective and professional manner as possible so we can get down to the bottom of what happened,” Hejduk said.
On May 17, two Snowbirds jets departed Kamloops Airport, en route to Comox.
Casey and MacDougall’s jet began flying vertically before beginning to spiral toward the ground, followed by the subsequent crash.
Casey and MacDougall ended up on a Schreiner Street property — Casey in the backyard and MacDougall on the roof of the house — while the aircraft exploded and then fell into a Glenview Avenue front yard, about six doors away from the two crew members.
Statement by the Prime Minister on the fatal Canadian Armed Forces aircraft crash in Kamloops, British Columbia
OTTAWA, May 17, 2020 /CNW/ – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the fatal Canadian Armed Forces aircraft crash in Kamloops, British Columbia:
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one Canadian Armed Forces member, Captain Jennifer Casey, and one injured, Captain Richard MacDougall, in today’s Snowbirds aircraft crash in Kamloops, British Columbia.
“Our thoughts are with the families of Captain Casey and Captain MacDougall, as well as the entire Canadian Forces Snowbirds team, as they grieve this terrible loss. I would also like to thank the emergency personnel in Kamloops who responded so quickly to this tragic incident.
“For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times. Every day, they represent the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication. Their flyovers across the country put a smile on the faces of Canadians everywhere and make us proud.
“Sophie and I join all Canadians in offering our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Captain Jennifer Casey. All Canadians are with you during this difficult time.”
Message from the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada on the death of Captain Jennifer Casey
OTTAWA, May 17, 2020 /CNW/ – We are devastated at the loss of Captain Jennifer Casey, public affairs officer with the Snowbirds air demonstration team.
In recent weeks, the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds undertook Operation INSPIRATION, to pay tribute to all those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. During a difficult time for our country, they were a source of hope, travelling across Canada away from their families, for us. Tonight, as this tight knit group mourns the loss of one of their own, we grieve with them, as one family.
On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Captain Casey. I would also like to extend my best wishes to the pilot injured in the crash for a speedy recovery.
To the Royal Canadian Air Force, the military Public Affairs Branch, and the entire Canadian Armed Forces community, Canada stands with you today and in the days to come. You are in our hearts.
A witness captured the moments before a Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet crashed in Kamloops, B.C.
One member of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team is dead after a Snowbirds jet crashed and burst into flames in the front yard of a house in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday.
Another member sustained serious injuries in the crash, the Department of National Defence said in a statement Sunday afternoon, adding that immediate family members were notified.
The crash happened before noon PT, shortly after the jet took off from the Kamloops Airport. Witnesses say it was following another jet when it appeared to veer upward and circle the tarmac before going into a nosedive.
Video shows two puffs of black smoke coming from the plane and appears to show at least one person ejecting from the jet shortly before it hit the ground in a residential area near Glenview Avenue and Schreiner Street.
The Snowbirds aerobatics team was scheduled to do a flyover of the Okanagan area Sunday as part of Operation Inspiration, a salute to Canadians and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic that started earlier this month in Nova Scotia.
“This accident today really shakes us to our core, but we will do our best to support the military and the men and women in service,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said during a media briefing Sunday afternoon.
Emergency crews from the Kamloops Airport initially responded to the incident. The military is sending an investigation team to Kamloops, and the Snowbirds will remain grounded for now, Christian said.
Kamloops RCMP are asking the public to avoid the area. They’re asking anyone who may have captured the crash on video to contact them.
In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts are with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Witness saw parachute land on house
Witness Annette Schonewille said she saw the jet fall from the sky.
Schonewille was parked with friends having coffee at McArthur Island Park in Kamloops.
She said she watched one Snowbirds plane fly up and when the second one went after it, it appeared to catch on fire.
“The one plane continued and the other one … was a ball of fire,” she said.
“No noise, it was strange, and then the plane just did a cartwheel and fell right out of the sky. Just boom, straight down, and then a burst of black, black smoke.”
‘It was complete chaos’
Nolyn McLeod lives across from the house where the plane landed.
He was sitting in his yard with his father when the plane went right over them, about three metres above their roof, he said.
“We saw the pilot eject like maybe two storeys high, and then the plane with no pilot in it went right between me and my neighbour’s house,” he said.
The plane curved into the street and hit the bedroom window of the neighbour’s house, he said.
McLeod said he ran to the front of that house, then tried to direct a gathering crowd away from power lines.
The charred plane was sitting in the neighbour’s front lawn, he said.
“The house was all burnt and charred; the roof was caving in,” he said. “It was pretty bad. The whole lawn was on fire.
“It was complete chaos. People were yelling and screaming. We thought we were getting bombed or something. That’s how hectic it was.”
Another Snowbirds jet went down in the U.S. state of Georgia last October, where the team had been scheduled to perform an air show.
Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier sustained minor injuries when he ejected from the plane, which crashed into a farmer’s field. No one else was hurt.
The Snowbirds have performed at air shows across Canada and the U.S. for decades and are considered a key tool for raising awareness recruiting for the air force. Eleven aircraft are used during shows, with nine flying and two kept as spares.
The air force obtained its Tutor jets in 1963 and has used them in air demonstrations since 1971. Prior to Sunday’s crash, seven pilots and one passenger had been killed and several aircraft had been lost over the course of the Snowbirds’ history.
An aircraft with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration jet team crashed in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday.
The Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed a snowbird had gone down “in the vicinity of Kamloops.”
“This is a developing situation. Our number one priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel, the community and supporting emergency personnel,” said the RCAF in a statement.
“When appropriate, more information will be made available.”Video appears to show fiery aftermath of CF Snowbird jet crash in Kamloops, B.C.The B.C. RCMP said officers were on scene and asking for the public to avoid Glenview Avenue, Crestline Street, Schreiner Street and Tranquille Road. Link to video.
Dana Hings told Global News she was at home, watching the Snowbirds when she heard a crash.
“We thought it broke the sound barrier and we come over onto the deck and we see smoke, so we raced over,” she said.Police, firefighters respond after CF Snowbird jet crashes in Kamloops, B.C.Adrian Dix✔@adriandix
Late this morning @BC_EHS received multiple calls about a plane crash near the Kamloops airport. Paramedics and air ambulances were dispatched and one individual was transported to hospital. Our thoughts are with all affected during this difficult time.
“I’m a retired nurse, so of course I went into the backyard and there was a woman, she was in the plane and she was deceased.
“We worked on her for quite a while, but, there, just she had catastrophic injuries.”
The BC Coroners Service has not confirmed a fatality.
Hings said the other occupant of the plane was able to eject and landed on a nearby roof.
Video from the scene appears to show two people ejecting from the jet before it crashes.
Mike Trafford, who lives near the airport, told Global News the aircraft had just taken off when something went wrong.
“The plane did a barrel roll, and shortly after the barrel roll there was a spark and the pilot ejected,” he said.
“Then the plane took a nosedive and went straight down.”
The BC Ambulance Service says it received a call around 11:30 a.m. and deployed multiple units, both ground and air.
The #RCAF has been made aware that a Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Kamloops, BC. Our priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel and supporting emergency personnel. When appropriate, more information will be made available.
Trafford said the aircraft crashed into a residential area, on Glenview Avenue, near Crestline Street.
“I’m just just hoping that everyone’s OK. I hope that, you know, whatever happened happened and that the pilots are OK and whoever was in the house is OK.”
Emergency crews including Kamloops Airport’s aircraft rescue fleet are responding to an aircraft crash off airport involving a Canadian Snowbirds jet. More information to follow.
The Snowbirds were performing a flight across B.C.’s interior as a part of their cross-Canada tour dubbed Operation Inspiration, to raise spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early Sunday morning and then again about an hour before the crash, the team posted on Twitter that its flight plans were being disrupted by rain and low visibility.CF Snowbirds@CFSnowbirds
OKANAGAN: We know some areas are starting to clear up, however transit through some of the mountain passes have very low cloud cover which is unsafe for flying 9 jets. We are going to preposition to Comox to start working our way west.
DELAY: Rain and low visibility in the Okanagan right now. We’re looking at options. Standby for updates. @CFSnowbirds
A Canadian Forces Snowbirds aircraft has crashed in the vicinity of Kamloops, BC. Our priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel and supporting emergency personnel. When appropriate, more information will be made available.
KAMLOOPS — A Canadian Forces Snowbirds plane has crashed near Kamloops.
Some media reports suggest at least one person made it out of the crash alive. However, there are suggestions there may have been another person on board. Nothing has been confirmed.
“This is a developing situation,” an emailed statement from the Armed Forces reads. “Our number one priority at this time is determining the status of our personnel, the community and supporting emergency personnel. When appropriate, more information will be made available.”
The Kamloops Airport confirmed emergency crews were responding to the crash.
Meanwhile, witnesses said they saw a pilot eject from the plane as it was going down. Videos posted to Twitter by people watching the Snowbirds fly-over show the moment the plane started descending. It shows two Snowbirds flying side-by-side before they separate. One of the planes makes a nosedive shortly after.
Other social media posts show what appears to be the moments after the crash, with some showing heavy smoke billowing from debris.
Operation Inspiration started in Nova Scotia earlier this month and features the team’s signature nine-jet formation. It followed a similar initiative south of the border, where the U.S. military’s own flight demonstration teams have been flying in honour of front-line workers and first responders.
The CF Snowbirds were conducting a cross-country flyover amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to show a united front and support for Canadians amid the health crisis.
The CF Snowbirds’ scheduled start was delayed because of rain and low visibility on Sunday. Mike Trafford lives near the airport and says he saw the Snowbird doing a barrel roll late this morning followed by a “spark, and the pilot eject and the plane basically just took a nose dive straight down.”
Trafford says it was raining earlier this morning, but cloudy at the time of the crash.
About an hour before the crash, a tweet from the Snowbirds’ official account mentioned low cloud through the mountain passes and how this was a safety concern