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WestJet Suspends Route Between Canada’s Largest Cities

WestJet is suspending flights between Toronto and Montreal during the winter months.

A WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Canada’s second-largest airline is suspending flights between the country’s two most populous cities. As first reported by CTV News, WestJet will not be flying between Toronto and Montreal during the upcoming winter season.

Canada’s Busiest Air Corridor

The route between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport has historically been Canada’s busiest air corridor. Flights between these two airports are supplemented by service between Montreal and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, located in downtown Toronto.

WestJet has confirmed that it will be suspending flights between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for the winter 2023-2024 season, with a planned resumption in April of 2024. WestJet does not serve Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

In a statement to CBC News, the Calgary-based airline stated that the suspension is “as a result of performance and in alignment with our strategic direction to expand our presence in Eastern Canada this winter, with increased non-stop connectivity to Western Canada, as well as providing more affordable leisure and sun travel opportunities across Canada.”

The Toronto–Montreal market is currently dominated by Air Canada and Porter Airlines, with over 80 daily flights between the two carriers. Air Canada flies between Toronto Pearson and Montreal using a variety of aircraft ranging from its widebody Airbus A330-300s to 76-seat Embraer 175s operated by Jazz Aviation under the Air Canada Express brand. Porter flies between the two airports with its Embraer E195-E2 jets as part of its expansion into jet flying at Toronto Pearson. WestJet currently only operates a single daily flight between the two airports, down by 80 percent when compared to 2019 service levels.

Leisure carrier Air Transat and WestJet-owned Sunwing Airlines also operate a few flights between Toronto Pearson and Montreal each week during some parts of the year as well. At Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in downtown Toronto, both Air Canada and Porter have service to Montreal using De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft.

A WestJet Boeing 787 enters the runway at Paine Field in Washington.
(Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Western Canada Consolidation

In June 2022, WestJet announced a new strategic path for the company following the appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer Alexis von Hoensbroech a few months prior. The airline indicated that it would be focusing on Western Canada and strengthening its base in its hometown of Calgary, Alberta.

The airline has since taken numerous steps towards this goal, such as consolidating its long-haul operations in Calgary and cutting service throughout Eastern Canada. For example, WestJet reduced is service between Toronto Pearson and Canada’s capital city of Ottawa – another busy Canadian air corridor – from three flights daily to one daily back in May.

WestJet’s moves are part of a shifting landscape in the Canadian air travel market. WestJet’s renewed focus in Calgary will allow Air Canada to expand its already massive presence in Eastern Canada. Porter Airlines’ aggressive expansion with its new jets has added a new competitor on many routes that were traditionally only served by one or two airlines. Newer low-cost carriers like Flair Airlines and Lynx Air are also driving up competition across the country. Challenges with labor and aircraft supply are also putting strains on the industry and are likely also contributing to WestJet’s network changes.

Andrew Chen

Author

  • Andrew Chen

    Andrew is a lifelong lover of aviation and travel. He has flown all over the world and is fascinated by the workings of the air travel industry. As a private pilot and glider pilot who has worked with airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders, he is always excited to share his passion for aviation with others. In addition to being a writer, he also hosts Flying Smarter, an educational travel podcast that explores the complex world of air travel to help listeners become better-informed and savvier travelers.

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