Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 07/24/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 07/24/2013 6:53 AM | Updates
Westjet is reviving non-stop daily service between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan's two largest cities beginning early next year.
A spokeswoman for the Calgary-based airline said Tuesday its new regional air service -- WestJet Encore -- will offer twice-daily non-stop flights between Winnipeg and Regina beginning on Jan. 15, and between Winnipeg and Saskatoon starting on Feb. 15.
Brie Ogle said WestJet halted direct flights between Winnipeg and the two Saskatchewan cities in May 2009.
That left Air Canada as the only carrier offering direct service. Winnipeggers wanting to fly WestJet had to fly to Calgary first, then catch a plane to Regina or Saskatoon.
Ogle said WestJet didn't halt direct service because it wasn't popular.
-- WAA president Barry Rempel
"It is and always has been. It's just the aircraft we were using didn't match the (passenger) volumes we were seeing."
She said back then, WestJet was using 116- to 166-seat planes, while its new regional service will use 78-seat jets. That will better match the number of passengers expected on the flights, she added.
The new flights to and from Saskatchewan are among a number of additions to WestJet's 2013-14 winter schedule. The airline said it is adding four new non-stop routes -- the other two are between Vancouver and Kamloops, B.C., and Calgary and Miami -- and two new year-round routes. It's also adding more flights on 29 existing routes within its network.
Ogle said Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc. and WestJet's own customers lobbied to have the two routes included as part of the new regional service. And the airline is thrilled to be able to do that.
In May, WestJet announced it was also adding daily non-stop service between Brandon and Calgary, beginning Sept. 3.
WAA president and CEO Barry Rempel said the new flights will be welcome additions.
Not only will they provide more options for local flyers, they should also help drive down airfares on the routes.
He said WestJet's round-trip airfare between Winnipeg and the two Saskatchewan cities is expected to be about $400, which is about $100 cheaper than what Air Canada charges. He said he expects Air Canada to reduce its fares to match WestJet's fares once the new service starts.
Rempel said the lower airfares and expanded service could also lead to more business dealings between companies here and in Saskatchewan, which would be good for the local economy.
"The more carriers there are and the more choices there are, the more opportunities there are to do business," he added.
The addition of the two new routes should also help boost passenger volumes at Winnipeg's James Richardson International Airport. Second-quarter results released Tuesday by the WAA show passenger traffic at the airport was down two per cent in the quarter that ended June 30.
Rempel blamed the decline on national carriers reducing the number of flights on some routes, or switching to smaller planes in a bid to boost passenger loads.
"Winnipeg has not been immune to those changes in capacity..." he added.
But he noted Q2's drop in passenger volumes was smaller than Q1's three per cent decline, so things are trending in the right direction.
"And with Encore being announced (for next year), I'm sure we'll start to see some of that come back."
Despite the year-over-year decline in passenger volumes, the WAA still reported an increase in second-quarter revenues -- $23.1 million versus $20.9 million -- and in earnings before interest and taxes -- $4.2 million versus $3.1 million.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 24, 2013 B6
Updated on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6:53 AM CDT: replaces photo
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Asian stocks drift after Wall Street slide
Samsung to launch new phone in China before Apple
Fonterra posts revenue jump; cuts forecast payout
Citizens Financial sets IPO at $21.50 a share
Meters eyed as possible cause of Nevada fires
Phones ring up record sales
Moody's raises Saskatchewan credit rating to Aaa
Things to know about $8B wind energy proposal
Quebec Atikamekw crack down on forestry
Province, hog industry square off over shortage
AP source: Offers made for closed Revel casino
Prosecutor: Convicted developer hoarded cash
Oil near its low for the year despite turmoil
Mercedes labour chief seeks UAW foothold in Alabama
Cascades employees back to work after fire
Nielsen's top programs for Sept. 15-21
How the Dow Jones industrial average did Tuesday
Strong Sunday season opening for CBS
Big new iPhone brings Apple more profit
Most actively traded companies on the TSX
Soft data, Syria strikes hit US, European markets
Kenney challenges provinces on TFWs
ACLU sues over Arizona 'revenge porn' bill
Funds through divisive visa system helped SD dairy
Grain lower, beef was higher and pork lower
US, California release roadmap for solar projects
More insurers to offer health law plans next year
Ban sought on children working on tobacco farms
Worker killed in explosion at Idaho dairy
Tim Hortons: Rule changes won't stop merger
Soda makers pledge to reduce calorie consumption
Dowdeswell new Ontario lieutenant-governor
Fracking in New Brunswick expected to pause
Wind energy proposal would light Los Angeles homes
FDA warns doctors to beware fake drug distributors
Greek PM: no 3rd bailout, will set out reform plan
Man charged with threatening to take over ranch
Seattle to fine residents for not composting