Travellers from Calgary to Kamloops may decide to switch to WestJet after Air Canada decided to end non-stop routes from some cities in Western Canada.
Colin Brost is the senior director of destination and market development for Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP). He said late last year, TSP was informed Air Canada would be cancelling multiple non-stop routes including flights from Kamloops to Calgary. He said the change comes as Air Canada restructures because of COVID-19 and positions itself in relation to WestJet.
In an emailed statement to SPIN, Air Canada wrote the company adjusted their winter schedule this fall, temporarily suspending non-stop flights from Kamloops to Calgary.
The company mentioned in the statement that “affected passengers have been offered travel options including rebooking over YVR.” Air Canada is assessing whether to resume the flights to Calgary, and highlighted that flights from YKA to YVR are still available.
In statements reported by the Saskatoon StarPheonix, Air Canada said the cancelled routes are a business decision, as the company focuses its resources on key cities, including Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.
After non-stop Air Canada flights from Calgary to Kamloops end on Jan. 15, WestJet will “be adding a route from Calgary to Kamloops beginning on February 17,” Brost said.
Ed Ratuski, YKA’s managing director, confirmed that WestJet is adding non-stop flights as of Feb. 17.
“In terms of the number of seats available out of Kamloops, there isn’t much of a change. WestJet and Air Canada are continuing to operate out of Vancouver. This does leave just one operator on the Calgary route with WestJet. But the additional frequencies [WestJet is] adding compensates for the loss of seats from Air Canada,” Ratuski explained.
He did mention that YKA was “caught off-guard” when they learned about Air Canada’s ending non-stop routes, and that the airport’s main concern is that it “doesn’t give us any options for travellers flying to Calgary.”
Affected travellers heading to Sun Peaks have been compensated by Air Canada, according to Ratuski.
According to Brost, the new WestJet route from Calgary will arrive in Kamloops in the evening.
“The timing actually works relatively well with some of the connecting flights with WestJet going over to, say, Europe or through the rest of Canada. So that’s always a positive,” Brost said.
He noted TSP is working with local partners to increase air access to the region but it’s “a challenging time” to approach airlines about new routes because of lost revenue with COVID-19.
TSP and its partners are creating proposals for airlines including Flair and Porter, and having “ongoing discussions with Alaska Airlines out of Seattle,” Brost explained.
“We’re looking at our core markets and seeing if there’s an opportunity to propose something with any airline to operate routes that we’re really interested in, primarily in the winter season,” Brost said.
SPIN has reached out to WestJet for comment.