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WestJet Adds Flights From Atlantic Canada
WestJet adds transatlantic connections from Maritime Canada.
WestJet recently announced a significant growth plan in the transatlantic market from the Canadian province of Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The new routes will originate from Halifax, St. John and Toronto and will connect them to cities in the British Isles. At the same time, summer schedule expansion will take place at its ‘Global Hub’ at Calgary, with new connection to Reykjavik in Iceland and added frequency to Tokyo, Rome, Barcelona and Edinburgh, U.K., while maintaining service to Paris, London and Dublin.
The details for new and resumed transatlantic flights from Eastern Canada are as followed:
|YHZ-EDI||3 weekly||20 June|
|YHZ-DUB||4 weekly||19 June|
|YHZ-LGW||4 weekly||28 April|
|YYT-LGW||3 weekly||1 May|
Edinburgh will see WestJet flying to three Canadian cities and will have 13 routes across the Atlantic scheduled for next summer, its biggest yet. Edinburgh’s flights to Calgary will be served four times a week on WestJet’s Dreamliner while the rest will most likely be served using their B737MAXs, though not yet confirmed. It will be the first time that the airline operates flights between Halifax and Edinburgh.
Transatlantic Market Gap in Atlantic Canada
Pre-covid and before the grounding of 737 MAXs, the transatlantic network map looked a little different from Atlantic Canada. Services from Halifax and St.John were operated by WestJet, Air Canada, Icelandair, Condor and more. However, the recovery was especially slow in the region and in the summer of 2022, only 2 routes were served by three carriers, two German leisure carriers, Condor and Discover, serving across very limited periods in the year from Frankfurt to Halifax, and a daily flight between Halifax and London Heathrow by Air Canada, which is expected to continue into summer of 2024.
Comparing to the transatlantic network out of Halifax and St. John in 2019, quite a few flights are still missing. WestJet offered direct flights to Glasgow, U.K. and Paris from Halifax during the summer of 2019, which are still absent from its network. Air Canada, on the other hand, previously operated flights between St. John and London’s Heathrow Airport until the Boeing 737 MAX grounding forced cancellation.
Last month, AirlineGeeks spoke with the COO and Vice President of Halifax Stanfield Airport, Marie Manning, to get a better perspective on what we can expect from Halifax and Atlantic Canada.
On the lost routes across the Atlantic, Manning said, ‘We are seeing strong demand transatlantic and destinations will be brought back. Demand is there for the UK and also Paris, which had a lot of growth prior to the pandemic so we are interested in getting the route back as well.’ Many of the destinations in the UK that Manning mentioned will be served again by WestJet, but Paris is still missing from the airport’s network and that could change. With WestJet getting more B737MAX and its strategy seemingly shifting back to the region, we could soon see the destination, and perhaps other new ones, being served.
Halifax as a Transit Hub
All of the new transatlantic flights depart in the evening and arrive back to Canada around noon time, suitable for the connecting traffic. Air Canada already sells connecting itineraries on its daily flight between Halifax and London’s Heathrow Airport, which departs westbound in the morning and has a morning arrival into Halifax.
Halifax Airport COO stated that the airport has adequate facilities to process transit passengers, including international to domestic and international to international connections. ‘We have seen the model works with WestJet before, with passengers coming from other Canadian cities connecting here to fly to Europe.’ Manning said.
Halifax is geographically well-positioned for a transit hub. Many transatlantic flights fly pass the region on their way to Europe and thanks to its proximity to continental Europe, many popular destinations are within range of a narrow-body aircraft. With newer Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus NEO jets with improved performance, the entirety of Western Europe is easily within its reach.
The Region’s Growth
Highlighting Halifax’s potential as a regional hub, Manning said, “Halifax is the fastest growing city in Canada by population, so the demand is strong for both connection traffic and O&D, or origin and destination traffic. Halifax is also seeing strong leisure demand coming from Europe and the UK. With Discover Airlines expanding service for the next season and its partnership with Air Canada, we will be able to facilitate more leisure traveling.”
Steady and Strong Recovery
Halifax has been under the spotlight with several recent route announcements, with new Icelandair service from Reykjavik and WestJet to Europe filling up its network across the pond, Discover’s service to Frankfurt is also expected to run for a longer period. Across the border, new daily service into New York LaGuardia has been announced by American Airlines for next summer.
With new airlines launching, Halifax is confident to recover to 93 percent of pre-covid passenger level in 2024, if not more. With a series of new routes launching, we can expect Halifax to see more routes being added and potentially playing a more central role in connecting the region to Europe.
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