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WestJet Suspends Atlantic Canada Routes, Slashes More Jobs
As airlines try to adjust schedules to fit demand, numerous airlines have cut service to cities across their route network. Calgary, Canada-based WestJet has become the latest carrier to do so, announcing cuts to their Atlantic Canada network effective Nov. 2.
The Calgary-based airline announced the indefinite suspension of operations in Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown, all cities in eastern Canada. The airline also significantly trimmed its schedules for Halifax and Saint John’s, Canada.
|Halifax – Sydney, Canda
|Halifax – Ottawa
|Moncton – Toronto
|Fredericton – Toronto
|Charlottetown – Toronto
|St. John’s – Toronto
|Quebec City – Toronto
Pre-COVID the suspended routes combined to dozens of weekly frequencies, leaving a large hole not only for the airline but also for passengers.
The suspended flights represent nearly 80% of the normal seat capacity that is seen in the Atlantic Canadian market. The cuts also mean that WestJet will only operate three routes to and from Halifax, significantly down from 17 destinations that were served pre-COVID.
“It has become increasingly unviable to serve these markets. Since the pandemic’s beginning, we have worked to keep essential air service to all of our domestic airports, however, demand for travel is being severely limited by restrictive policies and third-party fee increases that have left us out of runway without sector-specific support,” WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said in a press release.
Starting on Nov. 2, the only Atlantic Canadian service remaining will be flights between Halifax and Toronto; Halifax and Calgary; and Halifax and St. John’s. Flights will operate twice daily to and from Toronto, nine times weekly between Halifax and Calgary, and 11 times weekly between Halifax and St. John’s.
In addition those cuts, the airline will also suspend operations at Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport. The carrier served Quebec City from Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport up to three times daily. However, the route had recently been operating just four times each week.
WestJet had previously been the only Canadian carrier to not cut a single domestic destination due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional Job Cuts
On top of route cuts, the carrier also announced it would be laying off more employees than originally anticipated. The airline stated that 100 additional corporate and operational support employees would be laid off. Pre-pandemic, the airlines employed nearly 14,000 people however these numbers have since been halved due to voluntary leaves and involuntary furloughs. The airline was forced to layoff over 3,000 people in June amid a significant restructuring to consolidate its operations.
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