WestJet adds flights between Calgary and Saskatchewan as Air Canada cuts service

Calgary-based independent aviation analyst Rick Erickson says he's surprised that Air Canada — which pioneered most of Saskatchewan's inter-Canadian flights — have decided to step away from that heritage. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Calgary-based independent aviation analyst Rick Erickson says he's surprised that Air Canada — which pioneered most of Saskatchewan's inter-Canadian flights — have decided to step away from that heritage. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Starting Jan. 16, Air Canada will no longer offer service between Calgary and Regina or Saskatoon, leaving travellers with only one airline to get them between the cities for the next several months.

According to a statement from Air Canada, the cuts are part of a decision made last fall to make commercial changes to its regional network to and from Calgary.

"We are continuing to rebuild our business in a prudent and disciplined way, which involved looking at every aspect of our network and deploying our resources where they will be most productive," said the statement from Air Canada.

Rick Erickson, an independent aviation analyst in Calgary, says the decision is curious.

"I'm surprised that Air Canada would completely vacate the market largely to WestJet," said Erickson. "I haven't seen this done before."

He says he's tried to get higher-ups at Air Canada on the phone to explain their strategy, with no luck. So he dug into the changes the airline has made to its fleet.

Erickson says Air Canada has started replacing its smaller planes — like the Dash 8 — with larger aircraft.

"The Saskatchewan market is not large enough in their viewpoint [to fulfill] the kinds of aircraft that they are replacing their current fleet with."

Evelyne Asselin/CBC
Evelyne Asselin/CBC

While Erickson says he finds Air Canada's decision to abandon the market "very, very curious," he says it opens up a big opportunity for WestJet — the only airline offering service between the cities for the next several months.

Flair Airlines previously announced it will offer daily direct service between Calgary and Saskatoon starting May 9.

WestJet to expand service mid-February

To make up for the loss of service, WestJet confirmed in a statement that it will add additional service between Calgary and Saskatchewan starting Feb. 16.

The airline will add three additional daily flights between Calgary and Saskatoon, operating up to nine direct flights everyday.

It will also add one new daily flight between Calgary and Regina, operating up to seven direct flights everyday.

"In total, WestJet will operate 104 weekly flights between the communities and the YYC Calgary International Airport," said the statement.