Another discount airline takes off — but they may not all survive

Web News • 24 September 2022

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WestJet announces domestic winter service suspensions as airline transitions strategic direction

By WestJet | July 18, 2022

Winter service to Charlottetown, Fredericton, Sydney and Quebec City to be suspended as of November 15, 2022

As WestJet begins to strategically transition flying in Eastern Canada to focus on sun and leisure destinations as well as enhanced connections to Western Canada, the airline has announced the suspension of winter service to four communities in Eastern and Atlantic Canada. Effective November 15, 2022, service will be suspended to, Fredericton, N.B., Sydney, N.S., Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Quebec City, QC. Service between now and November 15, 2022, will NOT be affected.

Any guests with impacted travel will be notified beginning on July 18, 2022, either directly or through their travel agent. WestJet will strive to rebook guests with alternative travel arrangements, or guests will be eligible for a refund to original form of payment. More details are available here: https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/contact/alternate-travel-arrangements.

“We understand this is disappointing news and we apologize for any disruption this will cause our guests and communities,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “We are undertaking these strategic changes in a responsible manner and it was critical to give our guests and the communities as much advance notice as possible.”

WestJet recently announced how a growing, stronger, sustainable WestJet will benefit Canadians, following a strategic review to determine the best course for the airline’s sustained future success. This August, WestJet will release the airline’s full winter 2022/2023 schedule that will see significant sun and leisure flying investments for Eastern Canada along with capacity enhancements nationwide.   

“As a national airline, we will continue to engage with these communities and stakeholders as we look to enhance service to Eastern and Atlantic Canada through direct connections to Western Canada, sun and leisure destinations,” continued Weatherill. “By making these difficult decisions now, it will ensure we can offer more of what our guests expect from WestJet and solidify our airline as the most reliable and affordable airline for many years to come.”

Impacted routes:

Route Peak FrequencyServiceSuspension Date
Fredericton – Toronto  13x weeklyWestJet EncoreNovember 15, 2022
Sydney – Halifax 7x weekly WestJet EncoreNovember 15, 2022
Charlottetown – Toronto 3x weeklyWestJetNovember 15, 2022
Quebec City – Toronto  21x weeklyWestJet Encore November 15, 2022

CUPE Local 4070 Recognizes International Flight Attendants’ Day

May 31, 2022

EDMONTON, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, May 31st, is International Flight Attendants Day, a day to recognize the spirit and the efforts of flight attendants around the world.

“We’d like to take this day to recognize all of our members for their efforts and dedication through the pandemic. The pandemic brought unique challenges for flight attendants including increased loneliness and isolation on layovers, and immense difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities with limited flexibility and non-existent childcare options”

The last couple of years have been particularly challenging for flight attendants. Many have worked through the pandemic, bringing Canadians home and keeping essential travel operating. As things return to normal and travel resumes, flight attendants have welcomed Canadian families and business travellers back to the sky, while ensuring safety protocols and procedures remain in place.

“We’d like to take this day to recognize all of our members for their efforts and dedication through the pandemic. The pandemic brought unique challenges for flight attendants including increased loneliness and isolation on layovers, and immense difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities with limited flexibility and non-existent childcare options,” said CUPE Local 4070 President Crystal Hill.

CUPE represents about 4,000 flight attendants and cabin crew members at Westjet, Encore and Swoop airlines. Though many were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, all Local 4070 have since been able to return to the sky.

“We’re so glad our members have been able to return to work safely. However, the new normal has been overwhelming and has brought its own set of issues that affect our members every day. Today is a day to reflect and salute the resiliency of all Local 4070 members at WestJet, WestJet Encore, Swoop, and our Airline Division colleagues.”

To mark the day, CUPE Local 4070 will be recognizing the efforts of flight attendants with gift baskets generously donated by Van Houtte, Bigelow Tea, Master Chocolate, Step Up Comfort, Pocket of Flowers, Rita’s Kitchen, Royal Ontario Museum, Steven Sarasin, Beaded Beginnings, Infinite Alchemy, Siesta Massage Therapy, Tilted Veil, and Prismatic Ash Soap Co.

WestJet connecting Toronto to Chicago and Europe this summer

Airline to restore international non-stop routes from Toronto to Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London Gatwick

Summer schedule to feature 92 daily departures to 20 domestic destinations, 10 transborder and 20 international destinations from Toronto

CALGARY, AB, March 14, 2022 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced its 2022 summer schedule, featuring new non-stop service between Toronto and Chicago and more convenient options from Toronto to Europe with service to Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London Gatwick. The airline’s summer schedule release marks a significant milestone in the airline’s recovery, through the restoration of its network to near pre-pandemic levels.

New daily transborder service between Toronto and Chicago

As confidence in business and leisure travel continues to rise, WestJet’s newest route is to the Windy City, which will operate daily from Toronto with service beginning May 19, 2022, on WestJet Encore.    

“We are thrilled to provide daily non-stop service between Toronto and Chicago, two dynamic global cities,” said John Weatherill, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Our newest transborder route provides guests with increased options to discover these two vibrant cities or seamlessly connect to their chosen destination via our expansive network.”

RouteFrequencyStart date
Toronto – Chicago1x dailyMay 19, 2022
Chicago – Toronto1x dailyMay 19, 2022

Enhancing Toronto’s European connectivity

This summer, WestJet is restoring transatlantic connectivity across the country and adding more convenient and affordable non-stop options from Toronto to five European destinations: Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London Gatwick.

“Our guests have long awaited a return to international travel,” continued Weatherill. “These routes create a significant visitor pipeline from Europe and demonstrate WestJet’s commitment to leading the travel and tourism industry’s recovery.”

RoutePeak FrequencyStart date
Toronto – Barcelona3x weeklyMay 13, 2022
Toronto – Dublin1x dailyMay 15, 2022
Toronto – Glasgow4x weeklyMay 20, 2022
Toronto – Edinburgh3x weeklyJune 2, 2022
Toronto – London GatwickDailyMay 1, 2022
Increasing to 9x weeklyJune 11, 2022

To discover all the direct flights across WestJet’s network, visit WestJet.com.

About the WestJet Group of Companies 
In 26 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 www.westjet.com.

Recent recognition includes: 
– 2020/2019 Number-One Ranked Canadian Airline Loyalty Program in Member Engagement (Bond Brand Loyalty)
– 2019/2018/2017 Best Airline in Canada (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines) 
– 2019 Winner Among Mid-Sized Airlines in North America (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines) 
– 2019/2018 Number-One-Ranked Airline Credit Card in Canada (Rewards Canada) 

B.C. Court rejects WestJet’s appeal of class action certification about baggage fees

From The Toronto Star 🔗 link to source story

By The Canadian Press | Mon., January 24, 2022

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed WestJet’s efforts to overturn the certification of a class-action lawsuit on baggage fees.

The Calgary-based airline is alleged to have between September 2014 and March 2019 published two prices for checked bags, one that was free and then charged passengers another that was higher.

WestJet ultimately amended wording in its domestic tariff to remove that one checked bag will be free.

The class action based in contract law, unjust enrichment, and a double-ticketing offence under the federal Competition Act was certified in January 2021.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. and WestJet Encore Ltd. challenged certification relating to the claim under the Competition Act, not certification of the class in general.

In a ruling released Friday, Justice Robert Bauman wrote that the plaintiffs’ efforts are not “bound to fail” because the meaning behind the alleged offence has not been “substantially developed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.

The WestJet Group opposes re-introduction of blanket air travel advisory

Pathway for safe and fully-vaccinated international air travel must be preserved

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 15, 2021 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group today is expressing its strong opposition to the travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada. The targeted advice outlined today is not based on science and data and significantly undermines aviation’s proven safety record in response to COVID-19. These measures are a setback in Canada’s progress and its successful transition from relying on blanket advisories and policies.  

“Air travel is the most tested and protected consumer activity in Canada, every person travelling internationally is tested on average twice throughout their travel journey,” said Harry Taylor, WestJet President and CEO. “As the only fully-vaccinated air travel sector in the world, WestJet is calling on the government to publicly share the travel related COVID-19 data that has been used to re-impose the advisory and advice targeted towards fully-vaccinated Canadians and the travel and tourism industry.”

International travel standards and policies should be harmonized, yet Canada’s travel measures remain firmly out of step with border policies enacted across the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The advisory announced today, contradicts WHO’s guidance that states blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of COVID-19 and adversely affect lives and livelihoods. The Government of Canada should continue to focus on vaccinations and testing, as the pathway for safe and fully-vaccinated international air travel must be preserved.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have safely flown more than seven million guests and air travel has been commended for its commitment to safety. Fully-vaccinated Canadians should not be singled-out for choosing to take part in a safe activity,” continued Taylor. “Travel bans, restrictions and blanket advisories are devastating to the continued economic recovery of our country and place tens of thousands of recently recalled Canadian travel and tourism jobs at risk. We are very concerned today’s announcement will create unnecessary disruption and chaos in advance of the holiday travel season.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, The WestJet Group has responded to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all. The airline has implemented its own measures in response to the pandemic including a zero-tolerance mask policy, enhancing health and safety measures, suspending sun flights and implementing the airline’s mandatory vaccination policy for employees and air 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 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.