Flights to Phoenix, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta affected, not known when flights will return to normal
CBC News · Posted: Sep 10, 2019
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.
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.
Today the Regina Airport Authority (RAA) team shared their plans for the phase 1 post security hold room renovation.
According to James Bogusz, President and CEO, the focus of the renovations is to convert second floor pre-security food and beverage and retail outlets to post-security, provide additional seating in the passenger waiting area and create a new play area for children.
“In addition to increasing the food and beverage options post security, we will be streamlining our passenger screening area,” said Bogusz. “This will include new signage and more intuitive entrances that better define both the passenger and priority screening lanes.”
The phase 1 renovations were approved by the RAA board of directors with an investment of approximately one million dollars. The project, which is being funded by the airport improvement fee, is scheduled to be completed prior to Christmas.
“Post-security services are one of the most important aspects of a passenger’s experience at an airport,” said Bogusz. “After the renovations are completed, we look forward to our guests arriving early and enjoying the new food and space options.”
City council will consider request at its Aug. 26 meeting
CBC News · Posted: Aug 08, 2019
The Regina Airport Authority is hoping to land a deal that could see local travellers fly directly to U.S. destinations.
It has been roughly four years since a flight from any major city in the U.S. arrived in the Queen City, and now the airport authority and the City of Regina are in talks about a possible property tax exemption totalling $538,000 per year. The authority says this move would help it entice those U.S airlines back.
The total exemption would include municipal taxes of $311,400, an education tax of $199,000 and $28,000 in library taxes. If city council approves the exemption, it would have to apply to the province to approve the break on the public education property tax.
In May 2019, the airport authority requested support from the City of Regina for a five-year plan that would ultimately see Regina offer direct flights to U.S. airport hubs.
The airport authority says the property tax exemption would allow it to create incentives for U.S airlines that would include revenue guarantees, reduction in landing and terminal fees, as well as cash for marketing. The airport says it would commit to daily, year-round flights to U.S. hubs by 2020 and not increase fees for customers beyond the Regina consumer price index, set out by Statistics Canada.
In 2018, the Regina Airport Authority undertook a financial impact assessment that factored in two daily flights to cities such as Denver or Chicago, with a 50-seat availability. The assessment found such an option would generate $12 million a year to the local economy.
James Bogusz, president and CEO of the airport authority, wrote to the city, stating air service makes up a large component of the city’s gross domestic product activity. Support is critical for a thriving economy and promoting economic growth within the city, Bogusz stated.
Under the five-year plan, the airport authority would invest money into air service and retention with a possibility to renew once the term is up.
City council is set to review the request at an Aug. 26 meeting.
If you’re flying out of Regina this long-weekend, you could be slightly delayed.
There are localized network issues currently happening at the Regina International Airport.
Airport staff say they have tech crews working on site to resolve the issue.
The network issues are happening intermittently, meaning that some boarding passes and luggage tags are still being printed but others must be handwritten.
This could cause delays as both WestJet and Air Canada are affected by this issue.
#FlyYQR technology staff are investigating what appears to be a localized network issue impacting some components of passenger processing. We apologize for the inconvenience. The airline staff are assisting customers directly to complete their check in processes.
Under a new “passenger bill of rights,” airlines will be able to leave passengers stuck on the tarmac for longer than the current standard.
MONTREAL ― Canadian airports and airlines are some of the worst performers worldwide when it comes to flight delays, and new federal rules that allow passengers to be stuck on the tarmac for longer could make things worse.
All but one of Canada’s major airlines rank in the bottom half for on-time performance in a new survey from travel data provider OAG.
Canada’s best performer, WestJet, ranks 57th out of 125 airlines surveyed, with 77.1 per cent of all flights arriving on time. The country’s worst performer, Sunwing, ranks as the second-worst airline in the world, 124th out of 125, with only 57.8 per cent of flights on time.
Sunwing experienced numerous flight glitches in recent years, including major delays in Toronto and Montreal in April, 2018, that led to a fine from the Canadian Transportation Agency.
Looking at airports, Canada doesn’t fare much better. Our best airport, in Grande Prairie, Alta., ranks 108th out of 505 airports surveyed.
Toronto’s two commercial passenger airports, Pearson and Billy Bishop, rank as the two worst airports in Canada and among the worst in the world ― 475th and 489th, respectively.
Interestingly, there is a yawning east-west divide, with western Canadian airports performing better than others.
The survey comes as Canada is about to launch a new “passengers’ bill of rights” that some critics say will make it easier for airlines to delay flights.
Under the new regulations, airlines will be able to keep passengers stuck on the tarmac for up to three hours, plus an additional 45 minutes if the airline believes takeoff is imminent.
Currently, Canada has no government-enforced limits on tarmac delays, but airlines themselves had standards built into their tariffs. The industry standard was 90 minutes, which is also what a Senate committee recommended be the rule in the new passenger bill of rights. The government rejected that recommendation.
Additionally, it will be very difficult to get compensation from airlines in most cases where flights are delayed or passengers are denied boarding, said Gabor Lukacs, a prominent consumer advocate who has challenged airline practices in courts.
Watch: Here are the budget airlines in Canada. Story continues below.
Lukacs said he worries about the possibility of longer delays under the new rules because “when something becomes legal, they will do it. On the other hand, the counterargument is it’s in the airline’s best interest to get passengers to their destination as quickly as possible.”
Lukacs’ advocacy group, Air Passenger Rights, has accused the government of letting the airline industry dictate the new passengers’ bill of rights.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the tarmac delay rule was decided “based on operational realities and international best practices. For example, in the United States, air carriers are required to offer the option to disembark after a three hour delay on domestic flights, and a four hour delay on international flights.”
While airlines frequently blame weather for flight delays, data from the U.S. federal government shows that extreme weather events are responsible for fewer than 5 per cent of flight delays in the U.S. The most common reason for delays was late-arriving aircraft, meaning flights delayed because earlier flights were delayed. This accounted for nearly 42 per cent of U.S. delays. Canada does not currently keep track of this type of data.
But Lukacs points out that Canada has much harsher weather than most of the U.S., so it may not be a fair comparison. And Toronto’s worst-in-the-country Billy Bishop Airport has unique issues to deal with because it’s on an island.
“This may be an apples to oranges comparison,” he told HuffPost Canada by phone.
Nonetheless, Canada’s poor weather doesn’t explain why Alaska Airlines has a higher on-time percentage than any Canadian airline (80.7 per cent) and is the third best among U.S. airlines.
Lukacs argues these on-time rankings are incomplete: There isn’t enough data to determine, for instance, whether it’s a particular airport or a particular airline that’s behind delays in a given place.
Either way, airlines should be taking bad weather into account when planning their schedules, Lukacs said.
“If airlines and airports ignore the weather realities, then you have guaranteed, built-in failure,” he said.