Most Canadian airlines say they will be following their service schedule for summer as planned amid Air Canada’s announcement of major cuts to their flight lineup.
“We have been meticulously planning for summer operations and over the past few months have proactively reduced capacity to ensure we can deliver a stable operation,” said WestJet in a statement on its website.
WestJet, Porter, Sunwing, and Air Transat will all operate as usual — with no changes to schedules — the air carriers confirmed in emails to Global News Thursday.
Air Canada announced Wednesday that it will reduce its flight schedule in July and August to handle ongoing delays and airport congestion.
A majority of domestic flights to Canada’s busiest airports were delayed or cancelled over the past week as the effects of an overloaded international network continue to ripple across the country.
Airlines and the federal government have been scrambling to respond to scenes of endless lines, flight disruptions, lost luggage and daily turmoil at airports — particularly at Toronto Pearson International Airport — a problem the aviation industry has blamed on a shortage of federal security and customs officers at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).
In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, WestJet said they operated more than 700 flights a day. This summer the airline will operate 15 per cent fewer flights, averaging approximately 530 flights a day.
WestJet stated they’ve taken steps to ensure a stable operation, which includes hiring more than 1,000 people across all operational areas “with hiring ongoing across multiple departments.”
They have also taken the step to inform guests in advance of travel about evolving timelines and requirements, as well as introducing digital vouchers and pre-paid options to self-serve and save time at the airport.
“As we prepare for the busiest travel weekend since pre-pandemic, we have been working closely with our airport partners, third-party providers and the federal government to mitigate challenges,” said WestJet.
In an emailed statement to Global News, Sunwing said it was “not anticipating any additional changes” to its service levels for the summer.
“Sunwing had already taken a conservative approach with reduced capacity for this summer in order to deliver the best customer experience possible,” the airline said.
“Customers who choose to vacation with Sunwing will enjoy direct flights to their destination which removes the complexity from our scheduling and has allowed us to continue offering consistent service as planned,” it added.
Porter also intends to operate its summer flight schedule as planned, said Brad Cicero, a spokesperson for the Toronto-based regional airline.
“Billy Bishop Airport is running relatively well compared to larger airports and we have resources in place for the period,” Cicero said.
He said this summer will be a busy time, “with a comparable number of passengers to 2019.”
The spokesperson for Air Transat, Marie-Christine Pouliot, also said the airline has not received any requests for flight reductions and does not anticipate any cancellations.
Global News has reached out to Lynx and Swoop for comment about whether they’ll be reducing their flight lineup, but did not receive a response.
— with files from Global’s Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press