June 22, 2017

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Does Brandon airport slow down WestJet?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/1/2014 (1259 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WestJet Encore flights from Calgary have a five-star rating when it comes to arriving in Brandon on time — but it's a different story for the return leg.

Through November and December 2013, the flights from Calgary to Brandon have recorded a 92 per cent on-time arrival rating, with the average delay less than 10 minutes. The maximum delay recorded was 43 minutes, according to Flightstats.com, which tracks such data for airports around the world.

The small waiting room for passengers at Brandon Municipal Airport, which was built approximately 40 years ago.

GRANT HAMILTON/BRANDON SUN

The small waiting room for passengers at Brandon Municipal Airport, which was built approximately 40 years ago.

That is in the top one per cent of all flights.

The flight to Brandon normally takes off from Calgary at 9:45 a.m., and is scheduled to arrive at McGill Field in Brandon at 12:42 p.m.

Passenger and baggage operations, plus refuelling, is planned to take about 40 minutes on the ground in Brandon. The return flight to Calgary normally takes off at 1:20 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Calgary at 2:26 p.m.

It often misses that mark.

Flightstats.com figures reveal that the Brandon to Calgary flight arrives on time only 73 per cent of the time — poor enough to land it in the bottom one per cent of all flights.

The average delay in Calgary is 17 minutes, which isn't bad — although 56 per cent of all flights are better. The worst delay in the past two months was 87 minutes.

According to the Financial Post earlier this week, WestJet Encore as a whole has been struggling. Since it began operations in June, its flights have arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time only 64 per cent of the time. Parent airline WestJet manages an overall 80 per cent on-time score.

WestJet Encore president Ferio Pugliese told the Financial Post that winter weather over the past month and a half had been compounded by the Encore's small fleet of Q400 turboprops.

With just eight planes, when one is late, it causes a domino effect on other routes later in the day, he said.

"I’m not concerned. We’ve been watching the operation closely. We know where the culprits are. We have corrective action plans in place," Pugliese told the Post.

Although city officials have expressed concern about the small, cramped Brandon airport, it may not all be facility's fault.

For example, Thursday's flight to Calgary arrived 13 minutes late — even though it departed only three minutes late.

Recent improvements to the terminal building at the airport have given it a slightly bigger departure lounge, with washroom facilities. However, a $2.2 million full terminal upgrade has been budgeted for 2015, which would include a baggage carousel and updated ticket counters, as well as better flow through security for passengers. Other future improvements include $1.7 million in new runway lighting and a $2.5 million runway rehabilitation that are tentatively slated for 2020.

The city has placed airport upgrades on its infrastructure "wish list" for federal funding. And effective Aug. 9, 2014, a fee of $5.35 will be tacked on to each commercial passenger departure. That money will be put into a reserve for future upgrades.

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