Alberta-based airline WestJet has announced extra flights on its winter schedule for the Deer Lake Regional Airport. The move means WestJet will offer year-round service to the airport.
Beginning in October, WestJet will fly into Deer Lake three times a week. A company spokesperson said there is no reason why that won’t continue as long as it’s supported.
WestJet media advisor Brie Ogle said her company’s new regional carrier, Encore, has made it possible to free up aircraft on the schedule to be able to offer more routes and services to areas like Deer Lake. She said the company has been listening to passengers, who said they would like to see expanded service to Western Newfoundland.
“For us it was more about listening to our guests telling us that they have to fly there and they book the flights consistently, so we thought we’d expand it,” said Ogle. “It’s also about a lot more Newfoundlanders working out West.”
To that end, WestJet also added a permanent flight from Toronto to Fort McMurray, Alta., a hot spot for East Coast workers.
Ogle said WestJet will be watching the new Deer Lake routes carefully and would consider adding even more in the future, depending on what it finds.
“We have a never-say-never mentality here. If it’s a service that works then it can be re-evaluated down the road,” she said. “We release everything in schedule and there’s no reason it won’t happen for the following winter. As far as we know at this point it’s permanent.”
The new service will begin on Oct. 21 and will operate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday direct between Deer Lake and Toronto. WestJet has been providing a seasonal service to Toronto since 2007 and recently increased its frequency to twice-daily during the peak summer tourist season.
Deer Lake Airport Authority chairman Todd Lee said he was pleased with the announcement.
“WestJet has developed a loyal customer base and we welcome the opportunity to provide these travellers with year-round service,” he said.
Airport CEO Jamie Schwartz said the new year-round service will provide another valuable flight option for travellers to and from western Newfoundland, and benefit the entire region.
The airport has seen major increases in passenger traffic over the last few years, setting records for monthly traffic and overnight parking, among others, at the facility.
The Western Star