General aviation

Westjet releases reduced COVID schedule

A Westjet Boeing 737-700 departs Vancouver International Airport (photo: Brett Ballah).

Westjet has released a reduced domestic flight schedule to cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is roughly 50% smaller than what the airline flew before the crisis.

The airline will offer 1,522 flights next week to 33 destinations across the country. As promised, unlike the much larger Air Canada which will drop 22 cities from its domestic network, Westjet has not eliminated any cities from its network, though several routes have disappeared.

As might be expected in the situation, the airline is falling back on its three hubs to handle most of the traffic. Its main hub of Calgary will see 470 departures next week, Toronto 227, and Vancouver 154.

“We have proudly served Canadians for more than 24 years and we are committed to providing them critical economic connectivity during this difficult time,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Frequency may be reduced, but we pledge to be there for Canadians as long as possible to keep connections open and vital goods moving across our country.” 

Among Westjet’s other cities, Edmonton will see 99 weekly departures, Winnipeg 70, and Halifax 55.

Just before midnight Sunday, Westjet will abandon all its international routes, including to the United States, except for 34 relief flights the airline plans to repatriate Canadians stranded by the corona virus outbreak.

BELOW: Westjet’s route map for March 23 – April 21. The airline’s three hubs are in blue, focus cities are in teal, and destinations with fewer than 50 flights per week are marked with a small aircraft.

Westjet flights operated by Pacific Coastal under the Westjet Link brand are planned, despite Pacific Coastal’s announcement this week that it would ground its fleet of regional aircraft.

Westjet warns its schedule may be modified, depending on demand. Airlines have seen a 50% reduction as passengers heed government warnings to stay home and growing territorial and provincial restrictions on people who choose to fly.

In response, airlines have gone out of their way to reassure nervous flyers that their planes are thoroughly cleaned with filtered air flowing through the cabin.

Still, warnings about travellers persist.

Moncton International warned Sunday of a Westjet passenger on a flight March 16 who tested positive for COVID-19.

“She drove to PEI and immediately went into self-isolation,” said Heather Morrison, the island’s Chief Health Officer. “Passengers on the flight have also been asked to self-isolate.”

Categories: General aviation, Westjet

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