WestJet boosts summer domestic schedule

Carrier affirms plan to launch 11 new nonstop services across Canada.

WestJet is ramping up summer domestic flying by restarting nearly 40 routes and affirming it will start 11 new nonstop services across Canada, signaling growing confidence in the country’s travel-demand recovery, the airline said June 25. 

“We continue to work towards the restoration of our pre-COVID domestic network to ensure that when our guests are ready to travel, we are there for them,” WestJet chief commercial officer John Weatherill said.

“WestJet remains committed to building back stronger for the betterment of all Canadians and as we look ahead to reconnecting friends, family and loved ones, the safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery.” 

The additions will boost capacity throughout WestJet’s network. Once all routes are operating, the Calgary (YYC)-based carrier will have nonstop flights to 42 cities from its home base, 26 from Toronto (YYZ), 18 from Vancouver (YVR) and 16 from Edmonton (YEG). The 11 new nonstops, announced in March, add further connectivity to the airline’s network. 

Canada’s airlines have been grappling with severe travel restrictions since the early days of the pandemic, both domestically and internationally. Improvements within Canada have helped loosen inter-provincial restrictions, helping Canada’s airlines bolster domestic flying.

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Among WestJet’s recent moves was restarting service to the country’s Atlantic provinces, which set up a travel bubble. 

The carrier also is slowly adding international service back into its schedule, with flights to Amsterdam (AMS) and London (LGW). This despite Canada’s continued strict requirements for international travelers that continues to draw criticism from industry stakeholders. 

Canada’s health ministry on June 21 announced changes that will make international travel easier for Canadians this summer, but kept most restrictions for non-Canadians, international tourists and business travelers, in place. 

“Canada’s airports are disappointed that the federal government is providing no information on the subsequent phases in its restart plan, leaving Canadians and the travel and tourism sector in the dark on what is planned for the coming weeks and months,” the Canadian Airports Council said. The airports group cited continued quarantine requirements and funneling of all international flights through four Canadian airports as policies that need to be changed. 

Photo credit: Rob Finlayson