WINNIPEG — WestJet’s new regional air service could include flights between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan’s two biggest cities, Regina and Saskatoon, the Winnipeg Airports Authority’s top executive said this week.
“I’m certain Winnipeg will see some benefits from the launch of that service,” Barry Rempel said.
Included on the WAA’s wish list are regular flights to the two Saskatchewan cities, Rempel said, noting Air Canada is the only carrier that offers that service at the moment.
Brandon, which also has been lobbying hard for WestJet regional service, should have a good shot at getting it, he said.
However, Manitobans will have to wait a while to find out if Winnipeg and Brandon will be included in the new service. WestJet announced earlier this year it expects to launch its new Encore service in June of next year in one part of the country and in the rest of the country later. But it didn’t say which part of the country would get it first.
“If they launch in the east, we probably won’t see anything before 2014, at the earliest,” Rempel said.
A WestJet spokeswoman was noncommittal recently about whether Winnipeg and Brandon are being considered for the new service.
“I can tell you our schedule and network planning team (is) looking at the best options for our new aircraft and an announcement will be made in early 2013,” she said.
Rempel commented after the WAA released its third-quarter financial results for 2012. Revenues were up 4.7 per cent from a year earlier, at $22.2 million versus $21.2 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was unchanged at $12.4 million.
Passenger and cargo volumes also improved, Rempel said. Passenger traffic grew two per cent to 282,000 from 276,000, while cargo volumes were up 3.1 per cent to 14,417 tonnes from 13,978 tonnes.
Passenger volumes were 5.3 per cent ahead of last year’s pace after the first nine months — 2.70 million versus 2.56 million — and cargo shipments were about even, at 129,500 tonnes.
WestJet announced that Calgary will be home to WestJet Encore’s headquarters. The decision was made after a thorough review of various airports and a variety of factors. With consideration to the operational needs of WestJet Encore during its initial launch phase and as it grows to full maturity, Calgary was determined to be the best fit for the airline and its people.
WestJet and the Calgary Airport Authority will conduct a joint study to determine the exact location of an anticipated 40,000-square-foot maintenance facility and office space. Its specific location will be announced once a final decision is made. WestJetters who will provide corporate support to WestJet Encore will be located in WestJet’s LEED Gold certified campus building, also located in Calgary.
“We’re very pleased to announce that WestJet Encore’s headquarters will be in Calgary,” said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet president and CEO. “Calgary has been WestJet’s home since we began operations in 1996. As WestJet Encore looks to replicate the success of WestJet, the decision to do so from a Calgary headquarters felt right for us operationally and felt right for our WestJetters. We’re happy to welcome the Calgary International Airport to our new WestJet Encore family.”
“Today’s announcement by WestJet is great news for YYC, the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta,” said Garth Atkinson, president and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority. “WestJet already has a significant corporate and operational presence at YYC and the addition of the WestJet Encore head office and maintenance facility will greatly enhance the vitality of YYC as a major Canadian hub airport.”
The location of the headquarters will not determine where the airline’s operations will begin next year. As previously communicated, a list of the first communities to be served by WestJet Encore will be announced in early 2013 with eventual service from coast to coast.
» Winnipeg Free Press