BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Passengers disembark from Tuesday’s WestJet Encore flight from Calgary, two weeks after the first flight landed in Brandon.
Regular air service between Calgary and Brandon couldn’t have come at a better time for the Sauve family.
Wade and Carrie Sauve of Calgary welcomed their second child, Parker, eight weeks ago. Carrie, who is originally from Brandon, is spending part of her maternity leave in the Wheat City to be with her parents and relatives.
Thanks to the new WestJet Encore route between Calgary and Brandon, Wade (who is on a four-day-on, four-day-off work schedule) gets to fly to see his family on his days off.
"We were very happy — the day it was announced we bought three flights," Wade said.
Wade flew to Brandon last week and was getting on the plane back to Calgary on Tuesday. He’s back in Brandon again on Sunday.
"We think it’s fantastic … If we still had to drive to Winnipeg, I don’t know that he would’ve come back," Carrie said. "For four days, by the time you spend two days travelling, it’s not really worth it."
It seems many other travellers are taking advantage of the Brandon-Calgary connection. The Brandon Sun went to McGill Field on Tuesday to see how passengers are responding to the new service, now that it has been available for two weeks. The airport was packed with passengers waiting to go through security.
"I know I’ll save a lot of time and money," said Joleen Andres, recruitment specialist with Koch Fertilizer.
Andres was taking the flight to Calgary on Tuesday to connect to a flight to Saskatoon, where she is attending a career fair.
"It feels like you’re doubling back, but when you take into account the drive to and from Winnipeg, as well as the parking fees and all the time you spend driving … I can accomplish a lot more things sitting in an airport waiting for a plane," she said.
Meanwhile, Jean and Dave Sukaroff of Brandon arrived on the flight from Calgary after visiting relatives in Vancouver.
"We will use it a lot," Dave said. "It should be good for conventions. People are able to come here and don’t have to make the two-and-a-half hour trek from Winnipeg to Brandon."
The only complaint the Sukaroffs had was nearly missing their connection in Calgary.
"Our flight arrived at 9:30 approximately … and we had 10 minutes to get to this flight to get to Brandon," he said. "We were running, and if you had a cane or a wheelchair, you’d never make it."
Beth Edgar of Edmonton flew to Brandon to visit her sister in Virden. She said she was thrilled to hear about the direct flights.
"It’s such a handy thing for me," she said, adding the service will likely allow her come out to visit her family in Virden more often.
Tim Sanderson, the city’s director of transportation services, said the first two weeks with WestJet at the airport have gone well.
"It has been so busy … just anecdotally, we’re seeing a lot of people come through and it’s a good mix," he said. "We see business people, we see seniors, we see kids, we see students, we see a little bit of everybody."
Last week, a Second World War-era biplane crashed at the airport, which caused the first major delay. Both occupants of the plane survived, but the runway had to be closed for a few hours and a WestJet Encore flight rerouted to Winnipeg.
"Other than the crash, really everything has gone according to plan from our end and it’s worked really, really well," he said.
Sanderson said he was pleased with the city’s emergency response.
"Occasionally things beyond the control of any one individual happen. The best thing that we can do is have an excellent response plan," he said.
One request Sanderson has for passengers is to try to arrive at least an hour and a half to two hours before the flight.
"Although it’s a small airport and everybody thinks they can just breeze through security, our security is different than it is for example in Winnipeg," he said.
"If everybody comes 45 minutes or half an hour before the flight departs, then there is the potential to have that backlog and we don’t want to see people miss their flight because they’re being held up in security."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 18, 2013