Westjet says another few months until flights at Thunder Bay airport return to pre-pandemic levels

From CBC News – link to source story

Jeff Walters · CBC News · Posted: Sep 10, 2021

WestJet Encore services Thunder Bay with its Dash-8 Q400 turboprop aircraft on flights to Toronto and Winnipeg. (Francois Biber/CBC)

Increasing demand for flights to and from Thunder Bay, Ont., have allowed airlines servicing in the city to add more flights to the city, but it will be months before air travel is back to its pre-pandemic levels.

Westjet held an online round-table, including some of its executives, officials from the Thunder Bay Airport and Tourism Thunder Bay. The event was to discuss how the airline can attract more business and increase tourism.

“We’re aiming to return as much capacity over the next six months,” as was found pre-pandemic, said Chris Hedlin, the vice-president of network planning at Westjet.

Hedlin said demand at the airline, on a national level is projected to grow from July to January as much as the airline grew in the past 11 years.

Demand at the Thunder Bay Airport for Westjet flights dropped by about 80 percent through the pandemic, which is a little less than the overall demand drop of 90 percent.

Data in the Westjet presentation noted that pre-pandemic, over 800,000 passengers flew annually through Thunder Bay’s Airport. That figure dwindled to about 200,000 during the height of the pandemic.

Currently, the airline is running its capacity to Thunder Bay at 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Hedlin said, which is about average for the entire flight system.

“That’s going to continue to impact the pace at which we bring back services, as they still have to make sense. They still have to be driven by demand,” said Hedlin. 

Westjet is the only carrier to serve both Toronto and Winnipeg from Thunder Bay.

The airline said, in a response to a question from a former airport board member, that it would continue to look at adding a direct flight between Thunder Bay and Calgary, to take advantage of connections through its Calgary hub.

Earlier this week, Porter Airlines restarted its flights between Thunder Bay and Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Centre Airport.

Flair Airlines also announced it would now book flights to Thunder Bay from Toronto for the summer of 2022, with up to five flights per week.

WestJet flights between Dawson Creek and Calgary take off

Air service returns to Dawson Creek as WestJet Link connects city to WestJet’s global hub

CALGARY, AB, Sept. 8, 2021 /CNW/ – Today, WestJet launched its newest route with the departure of WestJet Link flight 3027 connecting Calgary and Dawson Creek, B.C. The inaugural marks a new link for the regions’ business, travel and tourism markets as WestJet becomes the only carrier to provide nonstop service between the Peace River Region and its largest hub in Calgary, where the airline is the largest carrier, offering the most seats and flights.

“Our guests in both Calgary and the Peace River Region have been patiently awaiting this important milestone and we are thrilled to bring air service to the community,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “As we continue to build back our network, Dawson Creek will benefit from lower fares and connectivity across our network as we strive to reconnect Canadians for business and leisure.”

Upon flight 3027’s arrival in Dawson Creek, the inaugural service was celebrated by Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead alongside Chris Hedlin, WestJet’s Vice-President of Network Planning and key regional business leaders.

“The City of Dawson Creek is so pleased to welcome WestJet into our city and the entire South Peace region of Northeast BC. This new direct service to Calgary is so important to the economic development of our city,” said Dale Bumstead, Mayor, Dawson Creek. “The Energy, Forestry and Mining sectors are all very important to our region and this new service will be a welcome addition for industry while also providing our residents with nonstop air service to WestJet’s global hub in Calgary for their leisure and business travel.”

The new service and new route for WestJet operates four times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.  WestJet Link flights are operated through a capacity purchase agreement with Pacific Coastal Airlines using its fleet of WestJet-branded 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft.

With the addition of Calgary-Dawson Creek service, WestJet Link now operates five routes between Calgary and Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Lloydminster and Medicine Hat and three between Vancouver and Cranbrook, Nanaimo and Comox.

Details of WestJet’s service between Calgary and Dawson Creek:

RouteFrequencyStart DateDepartureArrival
Calgary – Dawson Creek4x weeklySeptember 8, 20213:30 p.m4:37 p.m
Dawson Creek – Calgary4x weeklySeptember 8, 20215:15 p.m8:13 p.m

Additional quotes

“With many development projects happening across western Canada, the addition of WestJet’s Calgary to Dawson Creek, B.C. route is an important connection that supports economic development, benefiting both provinces,” said Chris Miles, Vice President, Operations & Infrastructure for The Calgary Airport Authority. “This route also provides guests in Northern B.C. direct access to Alberta and destinations across the country with YYC’s extensive connecting flight network.”

“We are very excited to be a part of the new air service to Dawson Creek,” says Pacific Coastal Airlines President, Quentin Smith. “We are pleased to see WestJet Link grow and look forward to our continued partnership and linking communities to the WestJet network.”

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 promise. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

WestJet Encore Cabin Crew Members, represented by CUPE Local 4070, ratify five-year collective agreement

CALGARY, AB, Aug. 14, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet Encore today announced that Encore Cabin Crew Members, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), have successfully ratified their first five-year agreement.

This ratified agreement is in place from August 1, 2021, through to and including July 31, 2026.

“I am glad to be sharing, once again, that we have achieved a collective agreement with CUPE,” Said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “This agreement, with our WestJet Encore Cabin Crew Members, shows that we continue to bargain productively and respectfully with our union partners. The result shows a dedication toward the interests of our Encore Cabin Crew, guests and WestJet Encore as we all look towards a safe and healthy return to the travel industry.”

The time invested in the negotiations by both parties, leading up to ratification, was necessary to work through the many complex terms and conditions.

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.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

CUPE 4070 Members Ratify First Contract With WestJet Encore

August 14, 2021 06:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time

CALGARY, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CUPE cabin crew members working at WestJet Encore, WestJet’s regional carrier, have signed off on their first collective bargaining agreement. Members voted today to ratify the tentative collective agreement reached in July. The five-year agreement includes wage improvements, and momentum towards industry-standard scheduling and pay rules.

“This is the first ever collective agreement for our membership at WestJet Encore. Ratification of this deal is proof positive that certifying with CUPE has been instrumental in our members’ pursuit of fair working conditions,” said CUPE 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch. “Reaching this deal was not easy in light of the circumstances caused by the global pandemic. I’d like to thank both our union and our bargaining committee for working so hard to find a path forward despite the challenges of the past 18 months.”

CUPE represents over 650 cabin crew at WestJet Encore. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since November 2019.

CUPE also represents cabin crew at WestJet mainline and its subsidiary Swoop. Rauenbusch is hopeful that the ratification of agreements with two of three bargaining units at the WestJet Group of Companies will lead to a fair and productive tentative agreement for Swoop Members in the near term. Swoop negotiations continue and have been underway since December 2019.

The WestJet Group responds to mandatory vaccination requirement for airline workers

Airline working to implement government’s mandatory vaccination requirement for federally regulated airline employees by the end of October

CALGARY, AB, Aug. 13, 2021 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group today welcomed the announcement by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra regarding mandatory vaccinations for federally regulated airline employees.

“We continue to be a strong partner in Canada’s vaccination rollout and are working diligently to implement the government’s policy on mandatory vaccines for airline employees,” said Mark Porter, WestJet Executive Vice-President, People and Culture. “Vaccinations are the most effective way to ensure the safety of our guests and employees, while curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

 “We understand our people will have questions and will be discussing with our employee and labour groups in real-time,” continued Mr. Porter. “We are seeking additional detail from the federal government on the requirement and are committed to working together to ensure the successful implementation of the policy by late October.”

WestJet currently has an active workforce of approximately 6,000 WestJetters, while 4000 remain inactive or furloughed. Swoop currently has an active workforce of 340 employees, while more than 170 remain inactive or furloughed.

The WestJet Group will adhere to the requirement for domestic travellers to be fully-vaccinated or tested prior to departure. The airline group is advocating that rapid-antigen testing is an acceptable, accessible and affordable alternative for unvaccinated travellers.

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.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

WestJet to launch non-stop Calgary – Seattle service

New destination marks 12 non-stop options to U.S. from Calgary hub by November 2021  

CALGARY, AB, Aug. 4, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced new non-stop service between Calgary, AB and Seattle, WA. As the airline with the most flights from Calgary, the new non-stop service to Seattle will operate four-times weekly beginning November 4, 2021, on WestJet Encore’s Q400 aircraft and will increase to two-times daily on May 19, 2022.

“We are delighted to add Calgary-Seattle service to our network, providing our first non-stop service between these two incredible cities,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “Whether planning to visit the Emerald City to catch a favourite sports team, or to explore the Canadian Rockies, this route provides guests in Western Canada and across the Pacific Northwest with new convenient and affordable options to connect for business or leisure.  As we continue to strengthen our presence from our home hub in Calgary, we will continue to make investments that support the restoration of our transborder network.”

With Canada’s border restrictions easing on August 9, 2021, WestJet is continuing to build upon its network position as Western Canada’s largest air carrier with the introduction of new service between the two iconic cities.  

Guests will also benefit from the addition of Seattle to WestJet’s network with new convenient connections via Seattle’s Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to U.S. destinations. More details on connectivity options will be released at a later date.

Details of WestJet’s new service between Calgary and Seattle:

RouteFrequencyStart date
Calgary – Seattle4x weeklyNovember 4, 2021
6x weeklyDecember 20, 2021
1x dailyMarch 28, 2022
2x dailyMay 19, 2022
Seattle – Calgary4x weeklyNovember 4, 2021
6x weeklyDecember 20, 2021
1x dailyMarch 28, 2022
2x dailyMay 19, 2022

Additional quotes

“WestJet’s commitment to expanding trade links and leading the rebuild of the visitor economy in Alberta has never been stronger,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President, External Affairs and Chief Legal Officer. “We have been listening to our partners and are thrilled to making the Pacific Northwest more connected to Canada via our global hub.  We look forward to expanded employment, trade and tourism links this investment will bring to life.”

“Despite the challenges of the past year, we are a gateway for business and leisure travel to our region with the addition of another brand-new carrier to SEA Airport,” said Lance Lyttle, SEA Airport Managing Director. “The region’s resiliency during one of the most challenging times in our industry continues to attract additional choices for visitors, business and residents of the region. Whether you’re traveling for business or taking a long-awaited trip to the beautiful Canadian Rockies, WestJet is a valuable addition to passenger choices.”

“Congratulations to WestJet on their new direct route from YYC to Seattle,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority. “We look forward to introducing guests to this beautiful coastal city to enjoy great culture, cuisine and, of course, coffee as well as welcoming American guests from the Pacific Northwest region to YYC.”

“WestJet’s latest direct flight to Seattle is another sign of economic recovery for our tourism industry,” said Doug Schweitzer, Alberta Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation. “Bringing international travellers to Alberta is a key part of revitalizing our hospitality sector and getting people back to work.”

“WestJet’s first nonstop Seattle-Calgary passenger route will support the continued growth of business and leisure travel between our two great cities,” said Brandon A. Lee, Consul General of Canada, Seattle U.S. “The route will make it easier for Seattle business leaders to take advantage of the innovative and vibrant business ecosystem in Calgary; home to 118 corporate head offices, the world’s fourth lowest effective tax rate, while having easy access to the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks and ski resorts. This new route into WestJet’s Calgary hub enables visitors’ further destinations throughout Canada, making it easier to visit Calgary, Alberta and Canada at-large.”

“With this new route connecting Calgary and Seattle, WestJet is further supporting the recovery of Calgary and Alberta’s tourism economy,” says Cindy Ady, Tourism Calgary CEO. “New airline routes are critical to the recovery of our tourism industry. Convenient air access will result in more visitors to our city, thereby bolstering the economic impact of tourism, which directly contributes over $2.5 billion to Calgary’s economy each year.”

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.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

Limited visual cues and runway conditions contributed to runway excursion of passenger aircraft in Terrace, BC

Richmond, British Columbia, 22 July 2021 — In its investigation report (A20P0013) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that limited visual cues due to falling snow and a snow-covered runway contributed to the 2020 runway excursion involving a WestJet Encore De Havilland of Canada Ltd. DHC-8-402 in Terrace, British Columbia.

The occurrence aircraft on Runway 33 at Terrace Airport. Image taken approximately 9 hours after the occurrence (Source: Terrace Airport)

On 31 January 2020, a De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. DHC-8-402 aircraft was conducting WestJet Encore flight WEN3107 from Vancouver, BC to Terrace, BC with four crew members and 43 passengers on board. During the landing roll, the aircraft drifted left from the snow-cleared area of the runway and the left main landing gear exited the runway surface, travelling for approximately 400 feet before returning to the runway. During the runway excursion, the aircraft’s nose landing gear collapsed. The aircraft came to a stop in the centre of the runway. The passengers were transported to the airport terminal by bus approximately 30 minutes after landing. No injuries were reported. The damage to the aircraft included the collapsed nose landing gear and damaged right propeller blades.

The investigation found that, given the falling snow and the snow-covered runway, there were limited visual cues available to the flight crew, which decreased their ability to accurately judge the aircraft’s lateral position once it was beyond the runway threshold. Snow clearing operations cleared the centre 100 feet of the runway, which resulted in windrows that were approximately 18 inches high along the edges of the cleared area. This reduced the pilot’s lateral maneuvering room during the landing.

It was also determined that the aircraft initially touched down 10 feet left of the centreline due to control inputs and variable wind conditions and, while the aircraft was still in a light weight-on-wheels condition, a gust contributed to a further deviation to the left until the left main landing gear came into contact with the windrow. As a result, the aircraft was pulled to the left and travelled through the uncleared portion of the runway. During the runway excursion, snow and ice became packed in the nose landing gear bay and caused structural deformation. Consequently, the nose landing gear was no longer being held in place and collapsed rearward into the fuselage, causing substantial damage to the aircraft.

Finally, the investigation also determined that, if aircraft operators do not provide pilots with all the possible tools and relevant information to assess runway suitability for landing, pilots may not evaluate all potential threats and may make decisions based on incomplete or conflicting information.

Following the occurrence, WestJet Encore issued a revision to the Quick Reference Handbook on 14 February 2020 that included changes to contaminated runway operations. The Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society issued a memo informing staff of changes to its Winter Maintenance Plan, which aligned the procedures with Issue 04 of Transport Canada’s Advisory Circular 302-013: Airport Winter Maintenance and Planning.

See the investigation page for more information.

WestJet Encore reaches tentative agreement with CUPE

CUPE Local 4070 represents WestJet Encore Inflight group

CALGARY, AB, July 15, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet Encore today announced that a tentative agreement had been reached with CUPE Local 4070, representation for the WestJet Encore Inflight (Cabin Crew) group. Both parties now await the ratification vote to be put forward to membership.

Earlier this year in February, WestJet and CUPE reached an agreement on behalf of the WestJet Inflight team that operates the airline’s jet fleet.

“For the second time this year, I am pleased to share that we’ve tentatively come to terms on an agreement with CUPE Local 4070. We have negotiated the first collective agreement, on behalf of our WestJet Encore Inflight group, with CUPE,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Our Inflight team members, who operate on our turboprop fleet, are an important and valued part of our operation. We intend to continue supporting them as they continue the safe, caring service our guests expect of the WestJet Group.”

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.

The Comox Valley Airport welcomes WestJet Link and an enhanced summer schedule

From Comox Airport – Thanks CW

25 June 2021

Today marks the re-start of WestJet’s service to Vancouver and Edmonton, along with a new summer schedule that includes non-stop Saturday service to Toronto.

“The Comox Valley Airport has been well served by WestJet in the past, but this new summer schedule brings us to a whole new level. WestJet Link features the comfortable 34 Seat Saab Turboprop to Vancouver’s main terminal, which along with the return of non-stop service to Edmonton, and increased frequency to Calgary connects YQQ to Western Canada’s three domestic hubs,” said Airport CEO, Mike Atkins. “The new schedules have been optimized to provide better connectivity, allowing passengers to travel to and from Vancouver Island without overnight delays.”

YQQ has seen an upswing in passengers since the regional travel restrictions lifted on June 16th. “We have the capacity to bring families together again this summer, but need the domestic travel restrictions to be lifted to allow those planes to be filled”, said Atkins. “It is our hope that this recovery will be given the go-ahead July 1st.”

  • WestJet Link service 2x daily to Vancouver
  • WestJet Encore service 3x daily to Calgary, 5 weekly non-stop flights to Edmonton
  • WestJet non-stop to Toronto on Saturdays
  • For additional information please Click Here

As always, safety is the number one priority for the Comox Valley Airport, and enhanced cleaning, physical distancing and other pandemic protocols will remain in place until further notice. For more information please visit our website at www.comoxairport.com YQQ Ready.

WestJet leads domestic recovery with the addition of 11 new routes


Airline’s investments in Western Canada support travel and tourism in anticipation of summer demand 

CALGARY, AB, March 26, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced 11 new domestic routes across Western Canada. The routes will offer new nonstop service for 15 communities across Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The enhancements follow an announcement made earlier in the week to return previously suspended service to Atlantic Canada and Quebec City.  

A message from WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims, on the airline’s commitment to Canada’s safe restart 

“As we look to the coming months with cautious optimism, we know our restart agenda will be pivotal to Canada’s economic recovery,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Stimulating air travel benefits all Canadians and supports those hardest hit; with one in every 10 Canadian jobs tied to travel and tourism, the ripple effect benefits our whole country.”  

The new routes include service between Toronto (YYZ) and Comox (YQQ); between Ottawa (YOW) and Victoria (YYJ) and eight new routes connecting the prairie provinces to British Columbia tourism destinations, such as Regina (YQR) to Kelowna (YLW). Full schedule details and start dates are outlined below. 

“We are at an inflection point; one that is buoyed by the rollout of vaccines, months of learning how to take appropriate precautions, and a view to Canada’s beautiful summer months that allows us to spend more time outdoors,” continued Sims. “If Canadians were to shift two-thirds of their planned international-leisure travel spend towards domestic tourism, it would help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate recovery by one year, all while seeing what Canada has to offer.” 

New routes: 

Route Frequency Effective from 
Toronto – Fort McMurray 2x weekly (Wed, Sun) June 6, 2021 
Kelowna – Saskatoon 2x weekly (Thu, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Kelowna – Regina 2x weekly (Thu, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Saskatoon – Victoria 2x weekly (Thu, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Winnipeg – Victoria 3x weekly (Thu, Sat, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Edmonton – Kamloops 2x weekly (Thu, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Edmonton – Penticton 2x weekly (Thu, Sun) June 24, 2021 
Edmonton – Nanaimo 2x weekly (Fri, Sun) June 25, 2021 
Prince George – Abbotsford 2x weekly (Fri, Sun) June 25, 2021 
Ottawa – Victoria 1x weekly (Sat) June 26, 2021 
Toronto – Comox 1x weekly (Sat) June 26, 2021 

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.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com