WestJet will now fly to the East Kootenay region, announcing a three-time daily service between Calgary and Cranbrook that will be effective March 7, 2018.
Making the announcement Friday, the carrier will fly to Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) in Cranbrook under an agreement with Pacific Coastal Airlines. The two airlines are partnering on WestJet Link, a new service that will have WestJet use Pacific Coastal Airlines' aircraft to service Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat, and Prince George.
"It's very significant news," said Tristen Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports following the announcement at Canadian Rockies International Airport Friday. "Historically, anytime that you see a national carrier in any country, any route - a big national carrier like West Jet - add capacity to a location, a rising tide floats all boats as they say and it really does boost the opportunities for people for travel."
"It's great news for the region for all of the East Kootenays," Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook told Summit 107. "A lot of people drive to Calgary, or Spokane or Kalispell to catch some of those international flights so this is a great connection for that so basically it opens us up to the world and it opens the world up to us."
The WestJet service from Cranbrook to Calgary, and vice versa will use Pacific Coastal's Saab 34 aircraft and fly three times a day, with reduced frequency on weekends and specific holidays.
Chernove said the 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft has two seats on one side of the aisle and a single seat on the other side, with full cabin service and washroom.
Introductory rates for the service will be $91.83 from Cranbrook to Calgary and $111.78 from Calgary back to Cranbrook. Chernove said the competitive introductory rates will only benefit ridership numbers in the long-term.
"Competition can be a very good healthy thing and boost all airline ridership and that's really what I expect to see here. History without fail has showed us that that is the case and we expect to see Pacific Coastal Airlines, Air Canada and WestJet all really do well here."
"If all carriers are carrying more passengers then they can all be having sustainable business model at lower prices," added Chernove. "We should see prices drive down across the board yet still be having enough additional ridership on all of those movements that the airlines are all successful."
At this current juncture, WestJet will fly three times a day to Calgary seven days a week, except for Saturday where there will only be two flights. The proposed West Jet schedule is as follows:
|Departure||Arrival||Departure Time||Arrival Time|
In addition, the WestJet Link service will also provide connecting flights from Cranbrook to Toronto with special rates one day only Friday, November 24th. The rates from Cranbrook to Toronto are $149.23 and $176.42 return with 500 seats available for both flights. Those flights will only be available for travel between March 7, 2018 and June 27, 2018.
While the news is exciting for the entire East Kootenay, Don McCormick, Mayor of Kimberley, told Summit 107 that the region needs to support the service if they want to see it long-term.
"While the announcement is here, it is up to us to make it work," said McCormick. "I can't emphasize that enough, that WestJet's in it to make a dollar and if we don't convert some of our habits to drive to some of these other airports, it's not going to be here very long so we need to support it and make it work."
Here is the introductory rate breakdown from Canadian Rockies International Airport for one-way fares to and from Calgary including the Air Transportation Charges (ATC):
|Departing||Arriving||Base Fare (ATC)||Other (ATC)||Taxes, Fees, and Charges||Total On-Way Price|
- Bradley Jones
(L to R: Jesse Nicholas, Ktunaxa Nation and COTR Board; Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook; Trisent Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports; Don McCormick, Mayor of Kimberley. Photo: Bradley Jones)
Audio: Tristen Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports making the WestJet announcement Friday
Audio: Tristen Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports on YXC connection national carriers
Audio: Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook on impact for the entire region
Audio: Don McCormick, Mayor of Kimberley on supporting the new carrier