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 Eyes New Service to Spokane with Regional Subsidiary

From Airline Geeks – link to source story

A WestJet Link Saab 340
A WestJet Link Saab 340. (Photo: WestJet)

By Winston Shek | November 28, 2021

If all goes as planned with the application, Spokane will receive a daily flight to Calgary and a daily flight to Vancouver, allowing for the airport’s first scheduled international air service in more than a decade. From 1997 to 2004, the airport received its only international service from Calgary on Canadian regional carrier Central Mountain Air operating under the Air Canada code via Beech 1900D turboprop 18-seater aircraft. Earlier in the 1990s, United Airlines and now-defunct AirBC serviced Calgary from Spokane.

This move marks Spokane’s third newest airline slated to launch service at the airport. One of the U.S.’s latest airline startups, aha!, plans to start service later this year to Reno, Nev. on its Embraer E145 aircraft. Meanwhile, Sun Country plans to launch summer-seasonal services to its hub in Minneapolis on its Boeing 737s.

During the pandemic, Spokane benefitted from three new routes, including two new services to Las Vegas and Phoenix on Allegiant and a new American Airlines flight to Chicago. However, Spokane will lose some Frontier Airlines service as the carrier resumes its flying in August 2022.

WestJet Expansion

It is unclear when WestJet will commence these flights, though this will mark WestJet Link’s only service to the U.S., not to be confused with WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore.

WestJet will launch its flights with Pacific Coastal Airlines’ Saab 340s, holding a total of 34 passengers in a 1-2 seating configuration. Currently, WestJet Link operates three Saab 340s, though a total of six Saab 340s can fly on the route.

WestJet Link was launched in 2017 to boost regional connectivity to WestJet’s hubs in Vancouver and Calgary. The regional airline started service in March 2018, expanding to several smaller regional destinations in Alberta and British Columbia like Medicine Hat. WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, operates the larger Bombardier Dash 8-400 to larger cities and some transborder hops to destinations like Boston or Nashville.

Currently, WestJet services 22 airports in the mainland U.S., including five destinations each in California and Florida. This winter, the Calgary-based carrier plans to add three routes to the mainland U.S., including a flight to its newest destination, Miami. In the Pacific Northwest, WestJet services Seattle and Portland, Ore., making Spokane a possible third destination in the region.

In addition to its moves in the U.S., WestJet plans to embark on a transatlantic expansion. Last week, the carrier inked a codeshare deal with Air Transat to expand the breadth of its European network. From Toronto, WestJet will launch new services to Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland with its Boeing 737 MAX, while from Calgary, Westjet will add new services to London and Rome, the latter of which was previously scheduled to launch in May 2020.

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 YQQ Ready.

Comox Valley Airport CEO cautiously optimistic about summer

From Comox Valley Record – link to source story – Thanks to CW

Airlines, increased schedule returns to the Comox Valley Airport

ERIN HALUSCHAK | Jun. 10, 2021

The Comox Valley Airport is hoping travel may increase this summer as passengers become more comfortable flying again. File photo

The Comox Valley Airport is hoping travel may increase this summer as passengers become more comfortable flying again. File photo

Looking ahead at the summer, Mike Atkins is cautiously optimistic.

He knows there is pent-up demand for travel, but understands there needs to be a level of comfort and safety for passengers with pandemic and post-pandemic travel, particularly in aviation.

Atkins is the chief executive officer of the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ), a role he took over in the midst of the pandemic in October 2020. While he is relatively new at the position, as the former 19 Wing commander, he understands not only the Comox Valley but the aviation industry as well.

As with other airports across the country and world, passenger numbers have plummeted throughout the past year, but he is hopeful some signals from airlines operating out of the airport indicate signs of recovery to the hard-hit industry.

“Starting at the end of the month, all airlines (from YQQ) have a very aggressive schedule,” he noted. “We’ll go from very little to having four airplanes remaining overnight.”

Atkins said as a whole, the airport was always able to remain fully staffed since the start of the pandemic, thanks to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which assisted in covering more than $700,000 in wages. They also received funding from the provincial government for ongoing operational costs and have applied for funding through the Regional Air Transportation Initiative, a $206-million federal government program to aid in the return in services in regional air transportation.

At the start of the pandemic, YQQ lost services from Air Canada; Pacific Coastal Airlines paused their operations to and from the airport to Vancouver for about a month and while WestJet reduced their flight frequency, they did not pause their service and continue to service the airport.

“(At the end of the month) Pacific Coastal will offer three flights daily, WestJet will fly to Calgary twice a day and will have a direct to Edmonton flight, along with WestJet link (to Vancouver) and a direct flight to Toronto. Right now, Air Canada will fly three days a week, and that may change to daily service,” said Atkins.

In terms of the return of the Comox to Puerto Vallarta direct flight in the fall, Atkins noted there is still uncertainly around international travel as he is unsure what government regulations may be in place by then.

“We are always looking at new routes and opportunities,” he added.

With hopes of travellers returning, one of the main projects currently underway at the terminal building is the relocation of the pre-board screening area. Atkins explained the goal is to increase the distance between passengers in addition to the holding room, particularly when there are multiple flights arriving and departing.

On June 23, the Comox Valley Airport will host their virtual annual general meeting at 3 p.m. For more information, visit

Medicine Hat airport loses commercial flight activity — for now

From CBC News – link to source story

Facility remains open for flight school, charter planes

CBC News · Posted: Apr 05, 2021

The Medicine Hat Regional Airport has gone quiet after both Air Canada, and now Westjet have pulled commercial flights temporarily. (City of Medicine Hat)

The Medicine Hat Regional Airport will no longer have any commercial flight activity, after two of its airlines pulled flights temporarily.

WestJet’s last flight was a week ago and Air Canada pulled its domestic flights in March of last year.

Airport manager Jeff Huntus says he is disappointed but not surprised. 

“To put it in perspective, we did in 2019, 75,000 passengers. So far in 2021, we’ve done about 200 passengers,” Huntus said. “If we continue to fly empty airplanes, airlines go bankrupt.”

WestJet pulled its flights from the airport last week but said they will return by June. 

There has been no word on when Air Canada will resume service to the southeastern Alberta city.

Huntus said it is easier to come back from suspended flights, than from commercial air bankruptcies.

“People understand why it’s happening,” he said. “But I think there is a great deal of pent-up demand and when things do turn around, I’m looking forward to a pretty significant increase in activity.”

Airport remains active

The airport will remain open and active. Huntus said it plays a big role in the community, even during the quiet days of the pandemic.

“There’s other activity. There’s still private pilots and recreational aviation, corporate aircraft, charters, businessmen and women flying in from across Canada to conduct business,” he said.

Medicine Hat is a medevac hub for southern Alberta.

The airport is also used by the Super T Aviation flight school, which is accepting new students, owner Terri Super said.

While it may be a tough time to think about getting into aviation, Super said she predicts charter flights becoming more popular.

“I think we will see more expansion of charter over the next little while, people can get on a charter aircraft and be in their own cohort.”

With files from Helen Pike and Natalie Valleau

WestJet celebrates 25 years of low fares, vigorous competition and great service

Airline re-creates its first flight and gives all guests on board a flight voucher to donate to their charity of choice

CALGARY, AB, March 1, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today marks 25 years of low fares, vigorous competition and great service in Canada.

“A quarter century ago, WestJet provided Canadians with a choice in airlines; since that time, we have invested across the country to bring more options and competitive fares to millions of Canadians who couldn’t afford the price of air travel prior,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “We are thankful to the thousands of WestJetters who have dedicated themselves to building our airline and to the more than 300 million guests who have chosen to fly with us. A lot has changed, but care remains at the heart of what we do.”

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.

WestJet’s arrival cut airfare almost in half for many communities and is the reason why 50 per cent more Canadians have been able to take a flight. WestJet has donated more than 200,000 flights to charitable organizations across its network and WestJetters have volunteered more than 575,000 hours to local community organizations through the WestJetters Caring for the Community program.

“It has been a difficult year for all airlines, WestJet included,” continued Sims. “I am proud of our resilient team who repatriated 4,000 Canadians on 28 flights with Global Affairs Canada; introduced more than 20 additional layers of safety for those still flying; and most recently, have volunteered to assist governments in vaccinating Canadians. We have been there in the past for Canadians and will be here in the future, for when they are ready to fly.”

Donating the gift of flight

Today, in celebration of 25 years, WestJet is re-creating its first flight between Calgary and Vancouver with day-one WestJetters operating the flight, including the captain, first officer, cabin crew members and flight dispatch. The scheduled flight, WS129, has 140 guests on board and as part of marking the airline’s 25-year commitment to communities, each guest will receive a gift of flight voucher to be donated to a charity of their choice. The gift of flight is valid for one roundtrip flight for two anywhere WestJet flies and is to be used by non-profit and charity organizations to support their fundraising initiatives.

“WestJet is committed to Canadian communities and we are honoured to provide others with the opportunity to share in our caring spirit by giving the gift of flight to the charity of their choice that may need an extra hand right now in fundraising,” stated Sims.

For more information on WestJet’s 25 anniversary, visit

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 Customer Satisfaction Takes Off

News from Destination CRM – link to story

July 27, 2020 – By Phillip Britt, technology writer

Article Featured Image

WestJet, along with its regional airlines, WestJet Encore and WestJet Link, offers scheduled service to more than 110 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe and to more than 250 destinations in 20 countries through partnerships with other airlines. The carrier is based in Calgary, in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Customer service has always been important to the carrier, which was named the Best Airline in Canada by TripAdvisor for three consecutive years, from 2017 to 2019.

Yet the airline’s contact center was often overwhelmed during severe weather that caused it to cancel many flights. In such instances, customers could be on hold for 20 minutes or longer, according to Tania Hoque, WestJet’s manager of digital and innovation.

To correct this, the carrier sought an automated system that could handle basic queries, like flight status requests, freeing contact center agents to handle more complicated requests. The carrier also wanted something that could be built on top of existing platforms so customers wouldn’t need to download another app to use it.

WestJet started searching for a solution in 2017 and reviewed more than 100 options. It eventually chose Netomi’s AI system. WestJet signed with Netomi in February 2018 but didn’t go live until August of that year.

“We liked the design technology powered by artificial intelligence to help guests self-serve,” Hoque says, emphasizing Netomi’s neural network and reinforced learning capabilities. “It understands guest patterns.”

Once it learns guest patterns, the technology can apply that information to better respond to subsequent callers with similar requests.

Netomi also won the WestJet contract because, as a young, nimble company, it was willing to provide WestJet with 24/7 support and negotiate on price, according to Hoque.

“We are not a small company; we wanted to make sure that the technology handled all of our stakeholders’ needs,” Hoque explains. “We wanted to make sure we developed all of the right use cases.”

Since the system is automated, any mistakes in rollout would have multiplied quickly, she points out.

WestJet already had 1 million Facebook followers, so the company chose to debut the Netomi AI on Facebook Messenger. Rather than employ a generic interface, WestJet personalized the bot by naming it “Juliet,” after one of the airline’s first aircraft.

WestJet integrated the AI-enabled bot into Facebook Messenger, making it the first point of contact for customers, who were initially introduced to the bot via, WestJet’s mobile apps, ads that click to Messenger, and posts on its Facebook page with a “Send Message” call to action. The AI was also introduced during on-hold times when customers called into customer support.

Juliet is deeply integrated with core business systems, so it can provide real-time information on everything from flight status, gate information, and booking availability to questions about traveling with pets, baggage fees, and how a bride can carry on her wedding dress, a surprisingly popular query, according to Netomi.

WestJet had already been having tremendous success with Juliet, but the technology really proved its worth when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lockdowns, according to Hoque.

Today, Juliet handles 75 percent of WestJet’s queries without ever having to involve a human agent. Engagement with customers has increased fivefold. Since customers can get questions answered quickly, they’re more willing to ask additional questions, Hoque says. “The bot is helping build loyalty.”

When the pandemic first hit in March, the volume of queries going to Juliet increased by a factor of 40, Hoque says.

Based on its success with Juliet so far, WestJet plans to expand Netomi’s AI technology on its website, according to Hoque. 

The Payoff

After installing Netomi’s AI, WestJet was able to do the following:

  • handle 75 percent of queries without agent intervention;
  • increase customer engagement fivefold; and
  • scale to handle 40 times the number of queries when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

WestJet welcomes Dawson Creek, B.C. to its network

WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership, Press Release

WestJet Link to offer the city’s only daily non-stop to Calgary

CALGARY, Feb. 7, 2020 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced that it will add new non-stop daily service between Dawson Creek, B.C., and Calgary on WestJet Link beginning April 26, 2020.

The year-round service will give guests from Dawson Creek the opportunity to travel conveniently for business and pleasure throughout the WestJet network, where the airline operates more than 1,000 flights per week to more than 72 destinations across the globe from Calgary.

“Providing the opportunity for convenient travel into and out of Calgary will help strengthen Dawson Creek’s already vibrant oil and gas, agriculture and tourism industries, many of which have links to Calgary and beyond,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “The value of connecting people, markets and communities is immeasurable and we look forward to bringing Canada’s favourite airline to the city this April.”

With the addition of Calgary-Dawson Creek service, WestJet Link will now operate five routes between Calgary and Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Lloydminster and Medicine Hat and one between Cranbrook and Vancouver. WestJet Link operations between Calgary and Prince George, B.C., will shift to year-round service on WestJet Encore’s 78-seat Q400 aircraft effective April 26.

“The City of Dawson Creek is pleased to welcome WestJet to our community,” said Dale Bumstead, Mayor of the City of Dawson Creek. “Dawson Creek is the hub of economic opportunity in the South Peace Region and WestJet service will further enhance these opportunities by providing our airport with additional destinations. Whether you are working in the area, attending a concert in our world-class event centre or visiting friends and family in the region, this new service will provide an added convenient travel option.”

WestJet Link is operated through a capacity purchase agreement with Pacific Coastal Airlines using its fleet of WestJet-branded 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft. Each aircraft includes six seats available in WestJet Premium, offering guests advanced boarding, no-charge for two checked bags and seating at the front of the aircraft.

Dawson Creek is WestJet’s 72nd destination out of Calgary, the airline’s home and hub. By June 2020, the airline will operate more than 1000 flights per week in peak season out of Calgary International Airport. More Calgarians choose WestJet for their air travel than any other airline.

“This new non-stop flight aboard WestJet will connect recreational and business guests to the beautiful city of Dawson Creek. The new link will also enable more B.C. guests to connect to WestJet’s extensive YYC hub. We’re excited to collaborate with WestJet Link on continued growth,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority.

Details of WestJet’s service between Dawson Creek, B.C. and Calgary:

Calgary-Dawson CreekDaily1:15 p.m.2:19 p.m.April 26, 2020
Dawson Creek-CalgaryDaily2:50 p.m.5:49 p.m.April 26, 2020

Additional quotes:
“We’re excited to begin operating this new daily non-stop service between Calgary and Dawson Creek”, says Pacific Coastal Airline’s President, Quentin Smith. “The addition of this route to the existing network of WestJet Link operations is indicative of the strong relationship between our two airlines, and the ongoing growth opportunities that exist for Link service.”

“At ARC, we are always looking for opportunities to create partnerships and enhance relationships with our stakeholders,” said Ron Toly, ARC Resources Ltd. “The new WestJet Link service to Dawson Creek opens up the doors to continued opportunity and growth for all businesses in the BC Peace region area.”

“The BC Peace region is poised for continued business growth with projects like TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project,” said Kiel Giddens, Public Affairs Manager for TC Energy. “This new WestJet service is a welcome connection that our employees and contractors will be able to take advantage of.”

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit

WestJet now connecting Vancouver and Cranbrook

Provided by WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership/CNW

CALGARY, Oct. 28, 2019 /CNW/ – Yesterday, WestJet’s regional air service, WestJet Link celebrated the expansion of its services following its inaugural flight between the airline’s hub in Vancouver and Cranbrook, B.C.

WestJet Link expands service with first flight between Vancouver and Cranbrook, B.C. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Link expands service with first flight between Vancouver and Cranbrook, B.C. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“Guests now have better access and more convenient options for travel to and from the interior of British Columbia,” said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning and Alliances. “Whether travelling for business or leisure, this new route gives guests the option to connect through our hub in Vancouver to destinations across our global network, including London U.K. on our Dreamliner.”

Since its inception in June 2018, WestJet Link has operated more than 7,000 flights between WestJet’s home and largest hub in Calgary to Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat and Prince George. In just over a year more than 200,000 guests have benefited from more convenient travel and better connectivity onto WestJet’s larger network through WestJet Link.  

“We are delighted to welcome WestJet Link’s daily service from Vancouver to Cranbrook,” said Anne Murray, Vice President, Airline Business Development and Public Affairs, Vancouver Airport Authority. “As Canada’s second busiest airport, YVR proudly links passengers to communities in British Columbia, North America and around the world. WestJet Link’s route to Cranbrook will further strengthen their Vancouver hub and drive economic benefits for our region, by connecting customers to a great B.C. destination.”

“The region has welcomed WestJet with great support as expected,” said Tristen Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports Inc. and Canadian Rockies International Airport Manager.  “Now entering WestJet’s second year of service at YXC, this expansion into its Vancouver hub comes at a perfect time as our region prepares for our busiest time of year with inbound winter adventurers and outbound sun seekers. We are proud to see air travel options continue to grow at YXC and we are grateful that WestJet believes so strongly in our market.”

WestJet Link is operated through a capacity purchase agreement with Pacific Coastal Airlines using its fleet of WestJet-branded 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft. Each aircraft includes six seats available in WestJet Premium, offering guests advanced boarding, no-charge for two checked bags and seating at the front of the aircraft.

“The addition of WestJet Link’s service to Vancouver International Airport’s main terminal is evidence of the growing partnership between our two airlines,” said Quentin Smith, President, Pacific Coastal Airlines.  “We look forward to working with WestJet on further development of WestJet Link’s operations over the coming years.”

This winter, WestJet will operate more than 75 daily departures from Vancouver International Airport to 29 destinations.

Details of WestJet Link’s service between Vancouver and Cranbrook:

Daily11:45 a.m.12:25 p.m.October 27,
Daily1:35 p.m.4:05 p.m.October 27,

Canada approves Pacific Coastal to serve US as WestJet Link

News provided by – link to full story

18 September 2019 by Pilar Wolfsteller, Flight Global, San Francisco

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has approved Pacific Coastal Airlines’ application to operate WestJet feeder flights between the Canada and the United States.

The 3 September approval could mark a step by WestJet toward additional US flying, but the carrier did not respond to requests for more information.

Vancouver-based Pacific Coastal, which operates a fleet of 34-seat Saab 340Bs, currently serves smaller regional airports in western Canada including Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat and Prince George as part of the WestJet network.

The carrier began flying for WestJet in June 2019, connecting WestJet’s Calgary hub with smaller cities in British Columbia and Alberta.

WestJet Link’s latest route, once-daily service between Vancouver and Cranbrook, is its sixth and will be launched in October.