Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg should get new flights: airport exec

WestJet service could fly to Regina, Saskatchewan

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WESTJET'S new regional air service could include flights between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan's two biggest cities, Regina and Saskatoon, the Winnipeg Airports Authority's top executive said Monday.

"I'm certain Winnipeg will see some benefits from the launch of that service," Barry Rempel said in an interview.

Included on the WAA's wish list are regular flights to the two Saskatchewan cities, Rempel said, noting Air Canada is the only carrier that offers that service at the moment.

Brandon, which also has been lobbying hard for WestJet regional service, should have a good shot at getting it, he said.

However, Manitobans will have to wait a while to find out if Winnipeg and Brandon will be included in the new service. WestJet announced earlier this year it expects to launch its new Encore service in June of next year in one part of the country, and in the rest of the country later. But it didn't say which part of the country would get it first.

"If they launch in the East, we probably won't see anything before 2014, at the earliest," Rempel said.

A WestJet spokeswoman was noncommittal Monday about whether Winnipeg and Brandon are being considered for the new service.

"I can tell you our schedule and network planning team (is) looking at the best options for our new aircraft and an announcement will be made in early 2013," she said.

Rempel commented after the WAA released its third-quarter financial results for 2012. Revenues were up 4.7 per cent from a year earlier, at $22.2 million versus $21.2 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was unchanged at $12.4 million.

Passenger and cargo volumes also improved, Rempel said. Passenger traffic grew two per cent to 282,000 from 276,00, while cargo volumes were up 3.1 per cent to 14,417 tonnes from 13,978 tonnes.

Passenger volumes were 5.3 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first nine months -- 2.70 million versus 2.56 million -- and cargo shipments were about even, at 129,500 tonnes.

The third-quarter increase in cargo volumes marked a turnaround from the first half of the year, when cargo shipments were down by about three per cent due to a global decline in traffic volumes.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2012 B5

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