WestJet cuts flights to Atlantic Canada


CALGARY – WestJet Airlines Ltd. suspends operations in four cities in Atlantic Canada and cuts service to others in the region as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the airline industry. WestJet on Wednesday announced it would indefinitely suspend routes to Fredericton, Moncton, NB, Sydney, NS and Charlottetown, while cutting service to Halifax and St. John’s, NL

The airline is also suspending operations between Toronto and Quebec.

The cuts eliminate more than 100 flights a week from Nov. 2 and remove nearly 80% of WestJet’s seating capacity from the Atlantic region, WestJet said.

“The lack of travel demand combined with national quarantines means that unfortunately we can no longer maintain our full Canadian service network,” CEO Ed Sims said in a video.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked to maintain essential air service to all of our domestic airports, but we are off the runway and have been forced to suspend service in the region without sector support. ”

The airline also said on Wednesday it would lay off 100 business and operations support workers, in addition to the 4,000 workers it had laid off since March.

The reductions do not include airport personnel at Atlantic airports affected due to previous restructuring.

In 2019, West carried more than two million passengers per month on average. Since the start of COVID-19 in March, it has carried a total of just over one million passengers, or about 7% of the number it would typically carry during that time.

More than 70% of the carrier’s fleet remains grounded.

The four Atlantic provinces continue to impose a travel “bubble” that requires a two-week quarantine for those arriving from outside the region.

Canada, unlike its G7 counterparts, has chosen to suspend financial assistance tailored to the airline sector, instead offering measures such as federal wage subsidies available in all industries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 14, 2020.


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