Nova Scotia residents looking to fly directly to Montreal, Ottawa and St. John’s will not use WestJet Airlines this winter due to the route suspension.
Flights between Halifax and Montreal will be suspended on October 28, while flights from Halifax to Ottawa and St. John’s will be suspended in early January.
WestJet announced earlier this summer that flights between Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton and Sydney will be suspended on November 15.
In June, the Calgary-based airline said it would focus the majority of its fleet in western Canada.
John Werrell, WestJet’s chief commercial officer, said in an email that the decision to suspend services was not taken seriously.
“We understand that this is disappointing news and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to our guests and communities,” Werrell said.
“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 with direct connections to Western Canada, a leisure destination.
“By making these tough decisions now, you will ensure that we can deliver more of what our guests expect from WestJet and establish our airline as the most reliable and affordable airline for many years to come.”
WestJet has not said if suspended routes will be reintroduced in the spring.
WestJet will continue to provide non-stop services to Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto from Halifax Stanfield International Airport this winter. There will also be flights to Orlando, Florida and Cancun, Mexico.
WestJet focuses on Western Canada
Rick Erickson, an independent airline industry analyst in Calgary, says WestJet’s suspension of these routes is part of the airline’s decision to return to its roots by focusing on western Canada.
“It’s really a business decision that was made in Calgary,” Erickson said. “You’ll see this all over Atlantic Canada and I’m afraid to say there isn’t much that Atlantic Canada can do about it.”
Ericsson said WestJet has decided to redeploy the aircraft in western Canada to compete with low-cost carriers that have emerged in the region such as Flair Airlines.
“They will compete with these low-cost companies for market share,” Ericsson said.
“Those planes had to come from somewhere and they decided Atlantic Canada would be the right place.”
Erickson noted that WestJet planes are also being redeployed from Quebec and Ontario.
Influence on Nova Scotia publications
Air Canada, which is based in Montreal, has historically been the leading airline in Atlantic Canada, but Ericsson said travelers in Nova Scotia would be affected by the suspension of WestJet’s route.
“Instead of four flights a day between the two companies with regional aircraft flying to St. John’s from Halifax, there will only be two or three flights,” Erickson said.
Erickson says WestJet has cleared much of the Atlantic Canada market for Air Canada. He thinks there will be plenty of service coming from Halifax, but that smaller Atlantic Canada destinations like Fredericton, Charlottetown and Sydney will likely suffer from the Westgate route suspension.
“Connection is the lifeblood of economic development,” said Erickson. “Every one of these communities will lose services and I’m sure economic development authorities and individuals alike will be very disappointed by this prospect.”
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