Canada’s second-largest airline announced Wednesday that it would be suspending four routes in and out of Atlantic Canada from November. The decision, WestJet said, was made inevitable due to the “Atlantic bubble” and a lack of sector-specific support from the government.
Out of runway in the region
Canadian carrier WestJet announced Wednesday that it would be halting services to four cities in the Atlantic Canada region. Operations to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, and Charlottetown will be suspended indefinitely effective November 2nd. Furthermore, the airline will significantly reduce services to Halifax and St John’s.
“It has become unviable to serve these markets and these decisions were regrettably inevitable as demand is being obliterated by the Atlantic bubble and third-party fee increases,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.
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“Since the pandemic’s beginning, we have worked to keep essential air service to all of our domestic airports, but we are out of runway and have been forced to suspend service in the region without sector-specific support,” he continued.
With the combined service suspensions and reductions, WestJet is cutting 100 weekly flights, which equals almost 80% of seat capacity from Atlantic Canada.
The three routes that WestJet will maintain in and out of the region are Halifax to Toronto (14 weekly flights), Halifax to St John’s (11 weekly flights), and Halifax and Calgary (nine weekly flights).
Outside of the region, the carrier is also suspending its service between Quebec City and Toronto, a route where WestJet has currently been operating three weekly flights (compared to a pre-crisis planned three daily).
Return when financially viable
WestJet said it understood this news would be devastating to the communities, airport partners, and frequent flier members. Mr Sims further stated that the airline intended to return to the four Atlantic Canada destinations as soon as it would be financially viable. However, when that could be was impossible to say due to a non-existent coordinated domestic approach or industry support.
Effective November 2, we will be suspending our operations to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown and Quebec City while significantly reducing service to Halifax and St. John’s. This is a result of the impact of domestic quarantines, and continued decrease in demand. pic.twitter.com/78sr9PSz3v
— WestJet (@WestJet) October 14, 2020
The Atlantic bubble
Atlantic Canada consists of four provinces; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Since July 3rd, an “Atlantic bubble” is in place. This means that residents of the four provinces are allowed to travel within the region without needing to adhere to self-isolation rules. Meanwhile, persons arriving from outside the region must follow local restrictions.
Some provinces lose WestJet entirely
Nova Scotia, the most populous and where Halifax and Sydney are located, requires anyone traveling to the province from outside of Atlantic Canada to self-isolate for a full 14 days upon arrival. People who can show proof of permanent residency in the region are exempt from this rule.
New Brunswick imposes the 14-day quarantine rule for anyone arriving from outside of the Atlantic region. Home to Moncton and Fredericton, travel to the latter is discouraged since the city saw a rise in COVID cases only a week ago.
Prince Edward Island, where Charlottetown is located, also requires arrivals from outside of the region to provide a detailed two-week self-isolation plan. As does Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province, but it will retain some WestJet services from St John’s.