WestJet Adds to its Transatlantic Route Network

The new link will operate from May 29, 2015 until October 23, 2015 using a Boeing 737-700 and like the existing St John’s – Dublin transatlantic operation will provide a same-aircraft connection to and from Toronto with other connections available to Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and 16 other cities in WestJet's Canadian network.

Canadian carrier WestJet has confirmed that Glasgow will be its second European destination and first route into the UK as it further expands its long-haul network. Following the success of its flights between St John’s and Dublin this summer, the carrier will introduce a daily link between Halifax and Glasgow in summer 2015, and further routes are expected to be announced in the future.

The new link will operate from May 29, 2015 until October 23, 2015 using a Boeing 737-700 and like the St John’s – Dublin operation will provide a same-aircraft connection to and from Toronto with other connections available to Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and 16 other cities in WestJet's Canadian network.

"This year's launch of service to Dublin has proved popular with existing transatlantic flyers and with new guests alike, thanks to market growth driven by drastically reduced fares," said Bob Cummings, executive vice-president, sales, marketing and guest experience, WestJet. "Fares to Glasgow will be as much as fifty per cent off existing prices, so we'll once again grow the market. Increased European operational and marketing experience is important as we count the months until four Boeing 767-300ERW aircraft join our fleet to further grow our network."

Nova Scotia and Scotland have always had close ties and WestJet expects its new flights to be popular with Nova Scotians visiting family and friends, Canadian visitors looking for a uniquely Scottish experience and with British guests travelling to Canada.

"Many Nova Scotians and Canadians trace their family roots back to Scotland and will be thrilled with increased ability to connect," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Regional Minister for Nova Scotia and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. "WestJet's addition of this direct flight to Glasgow will not only strengthen economic ties with Europe, furthering opportunities for trade in concert with CETA, but will also strengthen significant ties to a country that has had a significant impact on Canada's cultural, social, artistic, military and political fabric."

To mark this relationship, WestJet has numbered the Scotland-bound flight, ‘WS 30’ in honour of St Andrew's Day, which falls on November 30. This second transatlantic flight from WestJet is around a five-hour 15-minute sector time, which it says is “only a wee bit longer than” the airline's current domestic flight from Halifax to Calgary.

Canada is Glasgow’s second largest international market with 37,000 trips made each year by Canadian visitors who generate £12 million for the city’s economy.   Some 4.7 million Canadians have Scottish ancestry, with 24 per cent of them wanting to visit Scotland in search of those roots, according to Visit Scotland data. “The new WestJet route from Halifax to Glasgow presents a sizeable opportunity for the tourism industry in Scotland to tap into an ancestral market worth up to £450 million over the next five years,” said Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland.

The new transatlantic route has been secured despite the shackles of Air Passenger Duty (APD) which continues to significantly impact transatlantic demand to and from the UK. “We could attract more direct flights to Scotland by cutting rates of Air Passenger Duty,” said Scotland’s Transport Minister Keith Brown. “This is something that we don’t currently have the power to do but which has wide support in the aviation industry.”

According to data from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, over 85,000 passengers flew between Glasgow and three Canadian destinations served directly from the Scottish city - Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. In previous years annual demand has exceeded 115,000. In our analysis, below, we look at O&D demand between Glasgow and Halifax, highlighting the large passenger flows through the second half of the 2000s when the Scottish city was last linked to Halifax.

The Nova Scotia provincial capital is currently linked year-round to London Heathrow by Air Canada, while the last three summer’s Air Transat has offered a seasonal flight to London Gatwick. Glasgow has previously had direct seasonal flights to Halifax, operated most recently by flyglobespan in summer 2009 and before that by Zoom Airlines from summer 2005 through to summer 2008.

Data provided by Sabre

ASL Aviation Group subsidiary, Europe Airpost, this summer operated a series of eight non-scheduled return flights between Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle via Glasgow. The little-known French airline operates mail and cargo flights for the postal service and newspapers dispatch during the night and scheduled and charter services for other airlines and tour operators by day with a fleet of ‘Quick Change’ Boeing 737s.  The route, which operated weekly between July 4, 2014 and August 29, 2014, was flown using a Boeing 737-700 configured in a two-class layout, with a capacity of 128 seats: 24 in Premium Economy class and 104 in Economy class.