August 23, 2018 7:40 am
Updated: August 23, 2018 6:43 pm

WestJet cutting flights in a bid to reverse first loss in 13 years

WATCH: Global’s Tomasia DaSilva talks to the Calgary-based airline and an aviation analyst about what the WestJet route cuts mean and why they don’t signal significant turbulence ahead.

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WestJet Airlines is cutting back on flights across Canada as it reduces capacity to meet consumer demand, while also trying to reverse its first quarterly loss in 13 years.

The Alberta-based airline is cutting back on flights between Vancouver and Edmonton and Calgary, between Calgary and Denver, between Edmonton and Phoenix along with between Winnipeg and Palm Springs, Calif.

The airline had planned to drop direct flights between Edmonton and Las Vegas, however it reversed that decision this week after customers complained.

READ MORE: WestJet changes course, reestablishes direct flights between Edmonton and Las Vegas

Service will be trimmed between Vancouver and Fort St. John, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Palm Springs.

WATCH: Travel expert Claire Newell with some tips to pack smarter, including how to travel with just a carry on.


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It will also reduce service between Toronto and Los Angeles, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Ariz., Aruba, Belize, Huatulco and Liberia.

Service will also be reduced between Halifax and St. John’s and to Sydney. WestJet will cancel service between the Nova Scotia capital and Deer Lake, NL, and winter flights between Edmonton and Ottawa that will resume next summer.

The airline is also cancelling all service to Mexico City, that will affect both Calgary and Vancouver. However, travel is still possible through its codeshare partner Aeromexico.

WestJet said it is also cancelling service between Montreal and Quebec City effective Oct. 28, more than a year after they started to great fanfare.

READ MORE: WestJet cancelling service between Montreal and Quebec City

Canada’s second-largest airline made a big splash in February of 2017 when it announced that it would take on Air Canada on its home turf in Quebec by pursuing one of the largest expansions in the airline’s history after beefing up its service in French.

It claimed to be in a position to grow its reach in Canada’s second-largest province by population after requiring that all flight attendants hired since 2014 be bilingual.

The airline, which has operated in Quebec since 2003, made its push by adding daily flights between Montreal and Quebec City, Halifax and Boston using 70-seat Bombardier Q-400s.

READ MORE: Confusion over secret fares prompts WestJet to sever ties with Hopper app

WestJet is “responsibly” reducing network capacity by almost six percentage points as it looks to reduce costs and improve profitability, spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said Wednesday.

“We had anticipated stronger demand on Quebec City/Montreal route that did not materialize and as such, the decision was made to discontinue this route,” she wrote in an email.

WestJet has said the introduction of low fares and competition to markets serviced primarily by Air Canada would prompt more people to fly.

READ MORE: Swoop to launch transborder service in October to five tourist destinations

She said decisions to remove routes aren’t taken lightly.

“Ultimately, we have a responsibility to use our assets to provide a service that most guests are looking for and that gives a reasonable return on investment for our shareholders.”

WestJet reported a rare loss of $20.8 million in the second quarter and adjusted some of its 2018 expectations to reflect the impact of higher fuel costs.

READ MORE: WestJet CEO says soaring fuel prices to result in fare increases

Passengers after Oct. 28 will be rebooked on flights connecting in Toronto, refunded or rebooked on other airlines.

WestJet will continue to fly between Toronto and Quebec City three times daily and between Toronto and Montreal 14 times daily.

The fate of the Quebec City to Calgary route for next summer hasn’t been determined.

“We must be nimble and flexible to remain competitive in the market,” Stewart added.

READ MORE: Competition heating up for price sensitive passengers as Swoop set to launch

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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