WestJet adds flights to combat major backlog at Interior airports due to wildfires

From City News 1130 – link to source story – Thank PM

BY CLAIRE FENTON | Posted Aug 4, 2021

FILE PHOTO (Courtesy Kelowna International Airport)

SUMMARY

  • WestJet has added additional flights to deal with a major backlog caused by wildfire smoke in recent days
  • Dozens of flights were cancelled in several airports because of unsafe conditions caused by the nearby wildfires
  • Passengers who can’t get on a flight will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — WestJet has added flights to allow air travel out of the wildfire-ravaged Interior to resume. But with the backlog in cancelled flights, it is expected to take a while before everyone can get back home.

Cancellations were made Monday and Tuesday, with most affected flights operated either by Air Canada or WestJet.

Philip Elchitz with Kelowna International Airport explained Tuesday that BC Wildfire Service placed a “no-fly zone” in the vicinity of the fire. That zone is also right above the instrument approach into Kelowna International.

However, in an update Wednesday, Elchitz says winds are favourable, but he warns conditions could change.

“The smoke is still pretty thick. We’re seeing about five miles of visibility right now at the airport. That’s certainly better than the half-mile visibility we had over the last couple of days. But we’d like to see that improve over the next few days as well.”

He says he understands that passengers are frustrated, and weather permitting, flights should be back to normal soon.

“People have been very resourceful. But there has been a fair amount of frustration and anxiety.”

Passengers who can’t get on a flight Wednesday will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna.

More flights to and from the Okanagan cancelled because of B.C. wildfires

From City News 1130 – Link to source story

More flights to and from the Okanagan cancelled because of B.C. wildfires

BY PAUL JAMES, CLAIRE FENTON AND HANA MAE NASSAR | Posted Aug 3, 2021

FILE PHOTO (Courtesy Kelowna International Airport)

SUMMARY

  • Flights into, out of Kelowna International Airport cancelled Tuesday as White Rock Lake wildfire rages on
  • Only flight into Penticton Tuesday morning also cancelled
  • Kelowna airport says situation is being monitored ‘hour by hour’

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – Most passengers looking to fly into or out of Kelowna and Penticton have had to wait a bit longer as wildfires force both Okanagan airports to cancel flights.

Smoke from the White Rock Lake wildfire has been creating unsafe flying conditions for pilots, and first impacted travel at Kelowna International Airport Sunday night through to Monday afternoon.

“That has restricted the instrument approaches into the airport, and that has resulted in multiple cancellations over the last 24 hours,” YLW Senior Operations Manager Phillip Elchitz said Monday.

Cancellations were once again made Tuesday morning, with the majority of affected flights operated either by Air Canada or WestJet.

“We’re expecting it to be hour by hour,” Elchitz said of whether flights would resume Tuesday, adding “that’ll completely depend on the behaviour of the wildfire and our ability to work with the B.C. fire service.”

He explains the BC Wildfire Service places a “no-fly zone” in the vicinity of the fire. That zone is also right above the instrument approach into Kelowna International.

“Because of that no-fly zone, we can’t have any aircraft flying the instrument procedures into the airport, and as a result of that, the pilots aren’t able to shoot the approach into the facility,” he said.

According to Elchitz, the visibility at the airport was about 3/4 of a mile Monday afternoon.

Over the past several days, wildfire smoke forced the Penticton airport to cancel many of its flights, forcing many to find other options. As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the only flight arriving that same morning — the 10:15 a.m. from Calgary — had been cancelled. Another flight, for later in the day, was still listed as “On Time.”

Meanwhile, the only flight into Kamloops Tuesday morning was also cancelled.

But starting at 3:00 p.m., flights for roughly 8,000 passengers trying to make their way out of Kelowna will resume.

Phillip Elchitz with the Kelowna Airport says the BC Wildfire Service has been able to condense its ‘no-fly zone’ around a nearby fire, allowing flights to resume in and out of Kelowna.

Elchitz does warn that plans could change if the nearby fire forces a re-expansion of the no-fly zone.

“If there is an expansion of the White Rock Lake fire to the east, it’ll close our approaches again so we’re really just monitoring the wildfire situation, and we’re hopeful that the fire will hold at its current location.”

WestJet reconnecting routes across British Columbia

Airline to restart eight routes and inaugurate new flights between nine communitiesby early July

CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet is further restoring British Columbia’s domestic and interprovincial connectivity with the restart of eight routes to and from destinations across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The airline is also set to inaugurate 10 new routes by July 5, 2021. Full schedule details and resumption dates are outlined below.

“We continue to work towards the restoration of our pre-COVID domestic network to ensure that when our guests are ready to travel, we are there for them,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “WestJet remains committed to building back stronger for the betterment of all Canadians and as we look ahead to reconnecting friends, family and loved ones, the safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery.”

WestJet’s investments are critical to ensuring British Columbia’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and by the end of June, the airline is set to inaugurate new flights between Abbotsford and Prince George and restore WestJet Link service between Vancouver and Cranbrook.

“As a leader in aviation, WestJet has been working with industry, tourism and business across the province to ensure their voices are being heard as we safely restart travel. We thank Premier Horgan and his government for prioritizing travel as a critical component of the government’s restart plan. While progress has been made in British Columbia, we continue to advocate for safe travel framework from the Government of Canada,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President.

This July, WestJet will offer non-stop service from Vancouver to 18 cities, from Victoria to eight cities, from Kelowna to seven cities, from Comox to four cities and from Nanaimo to three cities. From the communities of Kamloops, Penticton and Prince George, the airline will connect to two communities non-stop.

Love Where You’re Going Again – WestJet’s Latest Video

For more than 17 months, Canadians from coast-to-coast have been separated from the people and places they love. WestJet’s latest brand moment is a reminder to Canadians that it’s time to love where they’re going, again.

British Columbia route restarts between now and June 30, 2021

RoutePeak FrequencyRoute restart date
Victoria – Winnipeg *3x weeklyJune 24, 2021 
Kelowna – Regina *2x weeklyJune 24, 2021 
Nanaimo – Vancouver  2x dailyJune 25, 2021 
Nanaimo – Edmonton *2x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Comox – Vancouver  2x dailyJune 25, 2021 
Kelowna – Saskatoon *2x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Kelowna – Victoria  4x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Vancouver – Cranbrook  1x dailyJune 25, 2021 
Abbotsford – Prince George *2x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Prince George – Calgary  4x weeklyJune 25, 2021 
Victoria – Ottawa * 1x weeklyJune 26, 2021 
Comox – Edmonton 5x weeklyJune 26, 2021 
Comox – Toronto *1x weeklyJune 26, 2021 
Victoria – Saskatoon *2x weeklyJune 27, 2021 
Victoria – Toronto2x weeklyJune 30, 2021
Penticton – Edmonton * 2x weeklyJuly 4, 2021
Kamloops – Edmonton *2x weeklyJuly 5, 2021
Vancouver – Fort St. John 4x weeklyJuly 13, 2021
*New Route

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 reconnecting Alberta routes

Airline to restart 10 routes across province and inaugurate new service from Edmonton to Penticton, Kamloops and Nanaimo

Non-stop service between Calgary-Charlottetown to launch on July 29

CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ -WestJet is further restoring Alberta’s domestic and interprovincial connectivity with the restart of 10 routes to and from destinations across British Columbia, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia from Calgary, Edmonton and Medicine Hat. The airline will also start operation of three new routes to and from Edmonton and begin non-stop service between Calgary and Charlottetown. Full schedule details and resumption dates are outlined below.

“We continue to work towards the restoration of our pre-COVID domestic network to ensure that when our guests are ready to travel, we are there for them,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “WestJet remains committed to building back stronger for the betterment of all Canadians, and as we look ahead to reconnecting friends, family and loved ones, the safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery.”

Connecting Alberta to Prince Edward Island non-stop

After being delayed due to the pandemic, WestJet will bridge new domestic connections between the east and the west with the introduction of new twice-weekly, non-stop service between Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Calgary, beginning July 29. The service connecting the two provinces was previously scheduled to start in June 2020.

WestJet’s investments are critical to ensuring Alberta’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and this July, WestJet will offer non-stop service from Calgary to 42 cities and from Edmonton to 16 cities. 

“This week’s meeting with more than 70 Northern Alberta industry partners demonstrates the value of listening to our partners as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic. We thank Premier Kenney and his government for leading the safe restart of travel for Albertans. While progress has been made in Alberta, we continue to advocate for a safe travel framework from the Government of Canada,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President.

Love Where You’re Going Again – WestJet’s Latest Video

For more than 17 months, Canadians from coast-to-coast have been separated from the people and places they love. WestJet’s latest brand moment is a reminder to Canadians that it’s time to love where they’re going, again.

Alberta route restarts between now and July 6, 2021

RoutePeak FrequencyRoute restart date
Edmonton – Nanaimo*2x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Regina 6x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Comox 5x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Calgary – Prince George4x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Calgary – London, Ont.4x weeklyJune 25, 2021
Edmonton – Winnipeg 6x weeklyJune 30, 2021
Calgary – Windsor2x weeklyJune 26, 2021
Calgary – Whitehorse2x weeklyJune 27, 2021
Calgary – Medicine Hat5x weeklyJune 27, 2021
Edmonton – Halifax 2x weeklyJuly 1, 2021
Edmonton – Penticton*2x weeklyJuly 3, 2021
Edmonton – Kamloops*2x weeklyJuly 4, 2021
Edmonton – Saskatoon 6x weeklyJuly 6, 2021
Calgary – Charlottetown *2x weeklyJuly 29, 2021
*New route

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.

Air Canada Supports Economic Recovery as the Country’s Leading Carrier, Serving 50 Cities Across Canada to Enable Canadians to Conveniently Connect

  • Most extensive domestic schedule supports Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector
  • Includes three new routes, re-established routes plus Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class cabins on select transcontinental routes
  • New refund policy gives additional peace of mind

MONTREAL, June 15, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada’s domestic peak summer schedule beginning at the end of June has been developed to advance the country’s economic recovery and support Canada’s tourism and hospitality businesses during the important summer period.  Three new domestic Canada routes, service to 50 Canadian airports, the re-establishment of select regional routes, and wide-body aircraft featuring Air Canada Signature Class and Premium Economy Class on select transcontinental routes are included. Seats with attractive pricing in all cabins are available for purchase now at aircanada.com, via the Air Canada App, Air Canada’s Contact Centres and travel agencies.

“With Canada’s ongoing vaccine roll-out acceleration together with various provincial governments’ reopening plans that include travel, this summer is looking brighter. As customers are ready to travel, Air Canada is taking a leadership position to support our partners in Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector with service to 50 destinations from coast to coast, the re-start of regional services and new, non-stop flights,” said Mark Galardo, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at Air Canada.

“We are especially proud that our new state-of-the-art, Canadian-manufactured Airbus A220 aircraft will be operating across Canada. With our industry-leading CleanCare+ bio-safety protocols, promotional fares including for our premium cabins, compelling Aeroplan opportunities, and our new refund policy offering additional peace of mind, customers can book Air Canada with confidence.  We look forward to welcoming you onboard when you’re ready to fly,” concluded Mr. Galardo.

Air Canada’s new refund policy provides customers an option for a refund to the original form of payment in instances where Air Canada cancels their flight or reschedules the departure time by more than three hours, irrespective of the reason. Air Canada customers will also have the option of accepting an Air Canada Travel Voucher or Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus.  Normal fare rules will apply when customers make voluntary changes to non-affected flights.

New route details:

RouteFrequencyAircraftEffective
Montreal-Deer LakeDailyCRJ900Jul 1, 2021
Montreal-Kelowna3x Weekly July4x Weekly AugAirbus A220June 26, 2021
Montreal-Saskatoon-ReginaDailyCRJ900Aug 1, 2021

Resumption of services:

Airport StationRouteEffectiveFrequency
Gander Gander – HalifaxJun 293x Weekly
 Gander – TorontoJul 25x Weekly
St. John’s St. John’s – TorontoJun 19Daily
Goose Bay Goose Bay – St. John’sJun 293x Weekly
Deer Lake Deer Lake – HalifaxAug 15x Weekly
Halifax Halifax – CalgaryAug 15x Weekly
Sydney Sydney – TorontoJun 263x Weekly
 Sydney – MontrealAug 1Daily
Charlottetown Charlottetown – TorontoJun 184x Weekly
Saint John Saint John – MontrealJun 303x Weekly
 Saint John – TorontoJul 24x Weekly
Fredericton Fredericton – MontrealJun 29Daily
 Fredericton – TorontoJul 15x Weekly
Bathurst Bathurst – MontrealJun 273x Weekly
Quebec City Quebec City – TorontoJun 191x Daily
Ottawa Ottawa – CalgaryJul 2Daily
 Ottawa – EdmontonAug 12x Weekly
North Bay North Bay – TorontoJun 283x Weekly
Fort McMurray Fort McMurray – TorontoJuly 12x Weekly
Winnipeg Winnipeg – CalgaryJun 206x weekly
 Winnipeg – MontrealAug 1Daily
Regina Regina – CalgaryJul 15x Weekly
Saskatoon Saskatoon – CalgaryJul 25x Weekly
Kamloops Kamloops – VancouverJun 294x Weekly
 Kamloops – CalgaryJun 284x Weekly
Comox Comox – VancouverJun 303x Weekly
Nanaimo Nanaimo – TorontoJul 41x Weekly
 Nanaimo – CalgaryJul 25x weekly
Prince Rupert Prince Rupert – VancouverJun 253x Weekly
Penticton Penticton – VancouverJun 294x Weekly
Sandspit Sandspit – VancouverJun 233x Weekly
Victoria Montreal – VictoriaJun 193x Weekly
 Toronto – VictoriaJun 194x Weekly
 Calgary – VictoriaJun 214x Weekly
Castlegar Castlegar – VancouverJun 283x Weekly
Kelowna Kelowna TorontoJun 184x Weekly
Yellowknife Yellowknife – CalgaryJun 303x Weekly

Air Canada is also providing connectivity to five additional regional communities through interline agreements with third party regional carriers: Wabush, Baie Comeau, Gaspe, Mont Joli, and Val d’Or.

Air Canada’s commercial schedule may be adjusted as required based on the COVID-19 trajectory and government restrictions.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2020 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

Flying for smiles – A Kelowna pilot has organized a flyover during May Long Weekend

From Castanet – link to source story

Madison Erhardt – May 10, 2021

Watch Video from Castanet

A 22-year-old pilot is ready for takeoff with the goal of putting smiles on faces.

Trevor Jones and over a dozen other pilots will take part in a fly-over on Sunday, May 23. The group will start in Kelowna, then head north to Vernon before heading to Penticton.

“With what is going on in the world, not a lot of people can get out with their families so I just wanted to do something where people in the Okanagan can go outside for an hour and enjoy some aeroplanes and lighten everyone’s day up.”

The fly-over will involve several different types of planes playing follow the leader.

“Just for safety reasons we may have a couple of guys do some tricks or something, but we are still trying to figure out the logistics, and 16 planes will be coming. That will include a variety of seaplanes, helicopters and all different sorts of speed and categories,” he said.

A year ago, Jones and a group of pilots participated in a fly-over in honour of Capt. Jennifer Casey of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, who died after a tragic crash in Kamloops last summer.

Jones says after last years flyover he received a lot of community feedback in hopes he would do it again this year.

The young pilot says he has been flying since he was 18 months old with his dad and hopes that this year’s flyover would inspire others to get involved in aviation.

“It seems lately there is a global shortage of pilots. You know I’m only 22-years-old, but I want to inspire younger people and get them up in the air because we need more pilots.”

Jones says he plans to leave from the Kelowna International Airport at about 12 p.m.

Details of Financial Support to Air Canada

From: Department of Finance Canada | 12 April 2021

Backgrounder

The government’s financial support to Air Canada is being provided under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC) has committed to provide $4 billion in repayable loans and an equity investment in Air Canada of $500 million in newly-issued Class B Voting Shares at a 15 per cent discount to their recent trading price. CEEFC will also receive warrants on Air Canada stock in an amount equal to 10 per cent of the loan commitments (CEEFC’s news release contains detailed information regarding the warrants).

As a condition of its agreement with CEEFC, Air Canada has made a number of commitments as outlined below.

Refunds for Canadians

The agreement with Air Canada ensures that customers who had their flights cancelled, or took action to cancel a flight because of the pandemic, are not financially disadvantaged. Under the terms of the financing agreement, Air Canada has committed to offer refunds to any passenger who wants a refund for certain pandemic-related cancelations by the carrier that CEEFC will finance. Air Canada has committed to providing customers with their refunds as soon as possible – beginning April 30, 2021 at the latest. CEEFC will provide additional loan financing of up to $1.4 billion for Air Canada to provide these refunds. Travel agents may assist in the processing of refunds for tickets the travel agents sold but will not be required to refund their commission to Air Canada.

Protecting Jobs

As a condition of the agreement with CEEFC, Air Canada has committed to maintain jobs at current levels, to respect collective bargaining agreements, and protect workers’ pensions. Air Canada currently has 14,859 active Canadian employees.

As required more generally under LEEFF, Air Canada has also agreed to restrictions on dividends, buying back shares, and executive compensation. The company will also provide climate-related financial disclosures, including how its future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.

Restarting Vital Domestic Air Services

The terms of the financial support will ensure that Canadians and communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada, through the restart of service at airports temporarily suspended by Air Canada. For seven airports where Air Canada had permanently canceled service, the airline will seek interline agreements with other carriers with a view to ensure those Canadians continue to have convenient access to their preferred airports and the flights they need.

Service will resume by no later than June 1, 2021, at the following suspended airports based on public health advice:

  • Bathurst
  • Comox
  • Fredericton
  • Gander
  • Goose Bay
  • Kamloops
  • North Bay
  • Penticton
  • Prince Rupert
  • Saint John
  • Sandspit
  • Sydney
  • Yellowknife

Supporting Jobs in Canada’s Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry supported 235,000 Canadian jobs and contributed over $28 billion in gross domestic product to the Canadian economy in 2019.

This financing agreement will allow Air Canada to continue to be a vital customer of the Canadian aerospace industry by completing its planned purchase of aircraft as set out in its business plan, which includes aircraft built in Canada, such as the Airbus A220. Aerospace is one of the most innovative and export-driven industries in Canada. The negative impact of the pandemic on the bottom line of airlines has put the relationship between airlines and the aerospace industry at risk, threatening job security in the sector. Ensuring that Air Canada maintains its status as a key customer of Canada’s aerospace industry is important to ensuring the long term success of the sector and the thousands of jobs it supports.