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WestJet launches first non-stop service from Calgary to Seattle

Click to play video: 'Canadian airlines add flights, aircraft as post COVID-19 recovery continues' Canadian airlines add flights, aircraft as post COVID-19 recovery continues
WATCH ABOVE: As the demand for travel starts to recover, Canadian airlines are responding by adding flights and more aircraft. As Michael King reports, that also means more options for Canadians looking to travel. – Nov 4, 2021

A new non-stop destination hit the departure board at Calgary International Airport Thursday morning. Calgarians can now fly direct to Seattle with WestJet four times a week.

The Calgary-based airline said the Pacific Northwest hub was chosen because of demand from Canadian customers, but added that it expects the route will also be popular for Americans coming north.

“This route will bolster economic ties between the regions,” said Chris Hedlin, WestJet’s vice-president of network and alliances.

“(The route) will stimulate Alberta’s visitor economy as we continue to strengthen our trans-border network from our global hub in Calgary.”

The airline will slowly ramp up service, increasing the frequency to six times a week on Dec. 20 before making it a daily flight in March and twice daily starting in May.

Read more: Ottawa to lift COVID-19 restrictions on international arrivals at 8 more Canadian airports

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Carmelle Hunka with the Calgary Airport Authority said Seattle will operate as both a destination and connecting hub of passengers.

“Seattle is a very connected airport,” said Hunka. “(It connects to) 91 domestic routes in the United Statesc, so it’ll move people from Calgary through Seattle.

The route is currently being served by a 78-seat De Havilland Dash 8-400, but WestJet said it will re-evaluate the route based on demand to find out whether it would be better served by the larger Boeing 737 or 737 MAX.

Rajbir Bhatti, a professor of supply chain management at Mount Royal University, said that airlines adding more routes after such a tough period of time is encouraging.

“It is good news,” Bhatti said. “It means the aviation sector now has a semblance of a 2019 business.

“The projections look good and we’re getting back on track.”

Competitors also expanding

WestJet wasn’t the only airline to launch new routes in late October and early November.

Edmonton-based Flair Airlines flew its first U.S.-bound routes to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Phoenix, Hollywood-Burbank, Palm Springs, Calif., and Las Vegas.

Read more: Canadian airlines adding flights, capacity in bid to recover COVID-19 losses

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Bhatti said the increased competition from the low-cost carrier is good news for consumers.

“I estimate, right now, with the limited information that we’ve had in the last few weeks, that the prices will go down,” Bhatti said. “By how much? We will have to wait and watch.”

Bhatti added that price drops will likely be limited to leisure and premium tickets and that consumers flying economy shouldn’t expect to see any savings.

Air Canada has also been emboldened by the recent rise in demand.

During its third-quarter update, the airline announced it would be moving forward with the delivery of two Airbus A220s which were initially part of a cancelled order back in November 2020.

It also noted that it has worked out a deal with Boeing to accelerate the delivery of four Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which will now be delivered by the end of 2021.

Click to play video: 'WestJet, partners agree restart of travel and tourism essential for economic recovery' WestJet, partners agree restart of travel and tourism essential for economic recovery
WestJet, partners agree restart of travel and tourism essential for economic recovery – Aug 10, 2021

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