WestJet set to announce new routes

WestJet CEO Greg Saretsky said they will announce the destinations to first be served by the company’s new regional carrier Encore on Monday.

Saretsky said in a conference call to discuss year-end financial results that the Encore announcement, which was slated to be made in January, was delayed to rollout their other initiative of premium economy seating.

It is expected WestJet will announce a summer schedule on Monday with the first group of communities to be served by Encore, either the west coast or the east coast. WestJet previously stated their plan is to then announce the schedules for the other half of the country nine months later.

According to business and financial news website, WestJet estimates their costs are 10 to 15 per cent lower than those of Air Canada and they want to widen that gap. Saretsky said the four rows of premium economy seating will offer travellers 36 inches of legroom. These seats will be bundled into names “econo,” “flex,” and “plus.” That changeover is expected to be complete by the end of the second quarter of this year.

Air Canada announced they will be boosting capacity on key regional routes, but have not indicated Penticton will be getting a Calgary connection.

“We continually evaluate the opportunity to add new services, and at this point we have no new announcements,” said Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah.

Air Canada announced in December they would be adding a fourth daily non-stop flight from Penticton to Vancouver. That is scheduled to start May 1. Mah said the extra Air Canada Express flight will boost the daily seat capacity by 33 per cent from 150 seats daily to 200 seats in 2013.

Mah said the four daily Air Canada Express flights from Penticton to Vancouver will be operated with the current 50-seat Dash 8-300 aircraft, while Victoria, Prince George and Fort St. John will be switched over this spring to their new fleet of Bombardier aircraft.


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