Daily direct service between Edmonton and Nanaimo will grind to a halt this March, just three months the new route was launched.
WestJet confirmed today it will cancel its new Edmonton route out of Nanaimo beginning March 5, as a result of an economic downturn.
It’s among a range of changes to the airline’s schedule in B.C. and Alberta, which also includes the cancellation of daily service between Kamloops and Edmonton and Prince George and Calgary.
Lauren Stewart, Westjet spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin the airline bases its service partly on supply and demand and reviews its schedule and network regularly to ensure it meets guests’ needs and maintains profitability for shareholders.
“With the downturn in the economy, we are seeing less demand for travel to and from energy markets into areas across Canada, including Nanaimo,” said Stewart. “We appreciate and recognize that this is unfortunate news for the citizens of the community. We will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary.”
There are already plans to woo WestJet into re-establishing its route.
Mike Hooper, president and chief executive officer for the Nanaimo Airport, considers the announcement a suspension rather than a cancellation and said the airport plans to hold a “Show your Love” campaign. The campaign, which will include social media, will see the airport ask passengers to share travel stories and reasons why its an “excellent route for a connection between Nanaimo and Edmonton, so when the economic conditions change that we are one of the sites that they come back to.”
Hooper said the decision on the Edmonton-Nanaimo route is based on macro economic conditions not any one community. The flight was only put into play in December, “so they are making a bigger decision than Nanaimo Airport,” said Hooper, who says they look forward to helping WestJet build flights from the airport in the future.
He does not anticipate any further route changes because of the economic downturn.