Canada’s WestJet is suspending dozens of domestic routes through to June in response to a significant fall in passenger demand. WestJet is also extending the suspension of its international and transborder flights. The carrier has been hit hard by the chilly pandemic generated headwinds buffeting global aviation. Today’s announcement of a fresh round of flight suspensions suggests WestJet is anticipating the pain to last a while yet.
WestJet is suspending a raft of domestic services from 5 June through to 4 July. The bulk of these flights are either to or from Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. These are also service suspensions, albeit fewer, from Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg, and Kelowna.
Three key cities are temporarily losing a lot of services
Ten domestic WestJet services are being suspended from Vancouver over early summer. These include Vancouver – Nanaimo, Vancouver – Comox, Vancouver – Regina, Vancouver – Saskatoon, Vancouver – Winnipeg, Vancouver – Fort St. John, Vancouver – Cranbrook, Vancouver – Ottawa, Vancouver – Montreal, and Vancouver – Halifax.
Some of these flights had been relatively infrequent. For example, Vancouver – Regina runs only four times a week. Others, such as Vancouver – Winnipeg are usually triple-daily services.
There are a dozen domestic services in and out of Edmonton being suspended over June. These include Edmonton – Comox, Edmonton – Victoria, Edmonton – Kelowna, Edmonton – Grande Prairie, Edmonton – Yellowknife, Edmonton – Saskatoon, Edmonton – Regina, Edmonton – Winnipeg, Edmonton – Ottawa, Edmonton – Montreal, Edmonton – Halifax, and Edmonton – St. John’s.
From Calgary, WestJet’s HQ, six services will be suspended over June. These are Calgary – Prince George, Calgary – Ottawa, Calgary – Montreal, Calgary – London (ON), Calgary – Halifax, and Calgary – St. John’s.
Other cities see fewer service cuts
Other WestJet ports are seeing fewer suspensions over the start of summer. From Toronto, three routes are being rested. These include Toronto – Victoria, Toronto – Regina, and Toronto – Saskatoon. It’s a similar scenario at Winnipeg, which is seeing the Winnipeg – Ottawa, Winnipeg – Regina, and Winnipeg – Halifax routes not flying over June.
Two further stand-alone WestJet flight suspensions through June are Kelowna – Victoria, and Halifax – Montreal.
Some cities are being hit particularly hard by these suspensions. Saskatoon, for instance, is losing three separate WestJet services, to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto, respectively. In total, that’s about 40 fewer flights a week in and out of Saskatoon. It’s a similar situation at Regina, which is collectively losing about 35 flights a week to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto.
In a short statement, WestJet acknowledges trying to keep routes open to accommodate essential travel and cargo while also catering to significantly reduced demand for travel.
The airline also notes that some of its seasonal flights will now have a new start date. Calgary – Charlottetown, Winnipeg – Montreal, Toronto – Kelowna, and Toronto – Sydney (NS) will now start on 5 July. A further seasonal service, Calgary – Quebec City, is currently set to commence the following day, 6 July.
It has been a torrid few months for WestJet
These new flight suspensions come on the back of extensive service cuts this month. Some 600 WestJet flights a day are being cut throughout May. That’s about 18,000 flights over the entire month – a lot of lost revenue for the airline. While WestJet is trying to maintain some domestic flying, it has suspended its international routes, including the short transborder hops over to the USA.
These flights will remain suspended until 25 June. In April, WestJet was carrying passenger loads 95% down on the previous April. At the time Ed Sims, WestJet’s CEO, said the airline needed to make tough decisions to survive. He told The Globe and Mail;
“The reality of this crisis continues to require WestJet to make mission-critical decisions to ensure the sustainability of our airline.”
Today’s announcement of further service suspensions suggests the airline is still in mission-critical mode.