WestJet eyes domestic tourism rebound

Eleven new domestic services are being launched, with the airline’s CEO Ed Sims calling on Canadian citizens to support the country’s tourism industry.

WestJet is launching 11 new routes across Western Canada and is encouraging Canadians to support the domestic tourism industry this summer.

The routes will offer nonstop service for 15 communities across Alberta, British Columbia,Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

The announcement comes days after the Calgary-based airline said it would restart passenger services at five Atlantic airports where flights were suspended last fall.

“As we look to the coming months with cautious optimism, we know our restart agenda will be pivotal to Canada’s economic recovery,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said.

“Stimulating air travel benefits all Canadians and supports those hardest-hit; with one in every 10 Canadian jobs tied to travel and tourism, the ripple effect benefits our whole country.”

The new services include flights between Toronto (YYZ) and Comox (YQQ); between Ottawa (YOW) and Victoria (YYJ) and eight new routes connecting the prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, to British Columbia tourism destinations such as from Regina (YQR) to Kelowna (YLW).

Sims said that if Canadians “were to shift two-thirds of their planned international-leisure travel spend” towards domestic tourism, it would help to sustain 150,000 jobs and “accelerate recovery by one year.”

More Canada coverage

“We are at an inflection point; one that is buoyed by the rollout of vaccines, months of learning how to take appropriate precautions, and a view to Canada's beautiful summer months that allows us to spend more time outdoors,” he added.

WestJet’s latest domestic expansion comes after the carrier confirmed plans to reinstate routes at Charlottetown (YYG), Prince Edward’s Island; Fredericton (YFC) and Moncton (YQM), New Brunswick; Quebec City (YQB), Quebec; and Sydney (YQY), Nova Scotia.

Flights to the stations were suspended last November as the carrier cited a lack of demand exacerbated by a strict travel bubble between Atlantic Canada’s four provinces.