Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet is indefinitely suspending operations from Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney and Charlottetown, while also reducing services to Halifax and St. John’s from the beginning of November. A return to service date is unknown.
More than 100 weekly flights, the equivalent of almost 80% seat capacity from the Atlantic region will be eliminated as a result of the announcement.
“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.
He added that since the beginning of the pandemic the airline has worked keep essential air service to all its domestic airports. “But we are out of runway and have been forced to suspend service in the region without sector-specific support.”
Up until this announcement WestJet was the only Canadian airline to maintain 100% of its pre-COVID domestic network. Since 2003 the airline has been credited with successfully bringing competition and lower fares to the Atlantic region, and subsequently driving tourism and business investments. The airline had announced permanent layoffs to its workforce through its airport transformation and contact centre consolidation back in June. Further layoffs are expected at Fredericton, Moncton, Sydney and Charlottetown when services are suspended in November.
“We understand this is devastating news to the communities, our airport partners and the WestJetters who rely on our airline, but these suspensions were unavoidable without the prioritisation of rapid-testing or support for the introduction of a safe Canadian bubble,” added Sims. “We remain committed to the Atlantic region and it is our intent to resume operations as soon as it becomes economically viable to do so.”