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WestJet says Brandon-Winnipeg flight is years away

The city released renderings of McGill Field redevelopment plans last month, which is expected to ease crowding at the airport. The project is expected to cost between $7.3 million and $8.3 million.

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The city released renderings of McGill Field redevelopment plans last month, which is expected to ease crowding at the airport. The project is expected to cost between $7.3 million and $8.3 million.

It might take two or three years, but WestJet has confirmed it is looking at adding a Winnipeg link for flyers out of Brandon.

WestJet Encore president Ferio Pugliese was in Winnipeg last week to address a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where he said that both Brandon and Thompson were being considered as links from the Winnipeg airport.

However, he later stressed that both of those services were longer-term possibilities — at least two or three years away.

"It's all depends on fleet availability... But it (a Winnipeg-Brandon service) certainly makes sense with the way we are building out the network," Pugliese said. "(And) Thompson is certainly on our list of communities we are giving consideration to."

From Winnipeg, Brandon flyers would be able to connect to eastern WestJet or Encore destinations, but Brandon travellers hoping for a direct WestJet Encore route from Brandon to Thunder Bay or Toronto will just have to keep their fingers crossed.

"We have to keep going forward with the aircraft that we have, and at this point we have 11 and still by mid-summer we’ll only have 13," WestJet spokesperson Brie Ogle told the Sun earlier this month.

She also said that WestJet Encore’s Brandon flights to and from Calgary continue to draw strong numbers.

"It’s maintained its momentum, we’re very pleased," Ogle said.

The city has announced plans to hugely upgrade the terminal building at McGill Field, tripling the size of the airport building and upgrading both security and passenger facilities.

The 18-month, $8.3-million project has yet to receive funding approval from the federal government.

The project has already received commitments from the municipal and provincial governments, and the city is set to begin collecting a $5.35 airport improvement fee in August that will be used for capital improvements.

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