WestJet slashes service to Atlantic Canada and Quebec City

WestJet will soon no longer fly to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City and drastically cut back its service to St. John’s and Halifax.

The Calgary-based airline said Wednesday it is eliminating 100 flights, which represent about 80 per cent of the airline’s service in and out of Atlantic Canada. The airline also says it is also suspending operations to Quebec City, by removing its flight between there and Toronto.

The route cancellations mean that the airline will also shutter its operations in the airports of Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton and Sydney. 

The routes will be cancelled as of Nov. 2. The decision will also result in the cutting of about 100 jobs.

“It has become increasingly unviable to serve these markets,” CEO Ed Sims said. “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.”

The moves mean that the entirely of WestJet’s service to Atlantic Canada will essentially  be based out of Halifax, with daily flights to Toronto, Calgary and St. John’s at least once a day. No other Canadian city east of Montreal will have a WestJet flight coming in or out of it for the foreseeable future.

Pandemic walloped demand

The changes come amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has walloped demand for air travel. Earlier this summer, Air Canada also cancelled 30 routes, the plurality of which were in Atlantic Canada.

They also come after previously announced moves by WestJet to lay off 3,333 people across the country, and a deal with pilots to agree to a 50 per cent pay cut instead of even more layoffs.

“We understand this news will be devastating to the communities, our airport partners and the WestJetters who rely on our service,” Sims said. “While we remain committed to the Atlantic region, it’s impossible to say when there will be a return to service without support for a co-ordinated domestic approach. Our intent is to return as soon as it becomes economically viable to do so.”

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