WestJet anticipates lower fares for new regional carrier

Penticton hoping to land service to Calgary when WestJet announces new routes in January

WestJet said they expect to capture the regional airline market by offering “dramatically” lower fares than their competitor.

WestJet CEO Greg Saretsky told the Canadian Club in Montreal earlier this week that he will “liberate Canadians” from the high cost of air travel when they roll out their regional airline, WestJet Encore, early next year.

“We do expect the fares to be dramatically less than what is currently offered in the markets,” said Robert Palmer, WestJet media representative. “There is just one other airline flying at the moment and we do expect fares to be dramatically less than what is currently being charged to people in those communities.”

The City of Penticton has been lobbying WestJet to choose the city as one of the communities that will land the regional carrier and service to Calgary. Palmer said the first group of communities will be announced on Jan. 21.

“It will be in the news release we send out every January to announce the summer schedule, but in this particular case we will include the first group of communities that will be served by WestJet Encore,” said Palmer.

The announcement in January will include service to either western or eastern routes that would begin later in 2013. The plan is to then announce the schedules for the other half of the country nine months later.

In May, WestJet announced they selected Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. to supply up to 45 turboprop aircraft for its new regional airline. These will fly to new destinations not currently connected by WestJet and allow for schedule improvements on certain routes where a smaller aircraft can efficiently provide greater frequency. The planes have a 70 to 80-seat capacity.

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton also has approached Air Canada, who currently fly out of the local airport with up to three flights a day to Vancouver. Ashton visited Air Canada’s head offices in Montreal in early November to also express the need for adding service to Calgary. Ashton told the Western News that AIr Canada was very receptive because of a positive report that detailed the potential of the Penticton airport.