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WestJet Restarting Service to All Domestic Destinations
WestJet Airlines has announced it will be resuming service to five cities in eastern Canada, the CBC reports. The destinations were suspended due to the significant drop in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent provincial lockdowns. When the services resume, WestJet will be back to serving all domestic destinations it served prior to the onset of the pandemic. The airline is restarting its service on the routes in anticipation of a stronger summer season as vaccines and a relaxation of restrictions may lead to more people traveling.
The five cities — Quebec City, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown, Moncton and St. John’s — are all located in Canada’s four easternmost provinces: Quebec City, Quebec, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Flights will begin June 24 with service to all five cities resuming by June 30. The initial flight schedule will be based on expected demand for the flights and may be augmented as demand begins to rise.
St. John’s, Fredericton, Moncton and Quebec City will initially see daily flights to WestJet’s eastern Canada hub of Toronto. Charlottetown will get 11 weekly flights from Toronto. And in addition to Toronto service, St. John’s will receive six flights per week to Halifax in neighboring Nova Scotia. Flights and frequencies will be adjusted based on demand, and the airline is expecting to see a strong return of demand once flights resume.
Signs of Life, But A Long Road Ahead
The resumption of service will likely see flight attendants and ground staff brought back from furlough, but it is unlikely WestJet pilots will be brought back initially. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, WestJet would also operate cross-border flights from many Atlantic Canada destinations to Florida in addition to a few transatlantic flights. These destinations are likely to remain suspended as nonessential travel between the U.S. and Canada is still discouraged. It will likely take a dramatic improvement in the virus situation on both sides of the border for holiday flights to resume.
WestJet initially suspended the five destinations in the fall last year due to a lack of demand. The resumptions will bring WestJet’s domestic network back to the same amount of destinations as they served before the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the airline will be operating to all its domestic stations, the number of flights operating will still be significantly below pre-pandemic levels. This level of service will not return until border restrictions are reduced or eliminated.
Atlantic Canada was hit particularly hard by cuts in air service. Although the region — save for large parts of the province of Quebec — has fared fairly well in terms of the number of Covid-19 cases reported, restrictions caused demand to dry up. In addition to the suspensions by WestJet, Air Canada also has suspended a number of destinations in the region, including Sydney and St. John’s. Air Canada has also permanently ended service to smaller towns in the region such as Bathurst and Wabush.
Air Canada has not announced any service resumptions yet.
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