After years of waiting, wishing and campaigning, Brandon has finally landed WestJet.
The major airline’s Encore division will start flying into the western Manitoba city in September.
“It’s huge, absolutely huge for quality of life,” said Shari Decter Hirst, Brandon’s mayor.
Daily flights between Brandon and Calgary will cost $99 plus taxes and fees.
The company says there is a possibility of adding other destinations in the future.
“This community is just the kind of market we would like to serve,” said Ferio Pugliese, the president of WestJet Encore. “Brandon has a lot of business and leisure travellers that fit in our matter and give us the opportunity to connect people into our network.”
WestJet says a smaller Bombardier Q400 aircraft makes the move into Brandon possible. Bigger jets wouldn’t be practical.
The aircraft seats 78 people and WestJet expects pretty much every flight to be packed.
Flight service has long been pushed for in the area. An online petition to bring WestJet to Brandon had 12,000 signatures.
“We drive into Winnipeg and when you land late at night that drive is a pain,” said Jaime Hofer, a Brandon resident.
Around 180,000 people live in Westman and will be served by WestJet.
“There’s strong activity in the oil sector and a strong community in Brandon so it just helps economic growth for the entire region,” said Greg Selinger, Manitoba’s premier.
A $1 million overhaul is planned for the Brandon Airport terminal to bring the building up to federal security standards.
Work will start immediately to make sure everything is ready when the first WestJet plane takes off September 3rd.