Canada’s low-cost carrier WestJet Airlines to start new flights

Thursday, December 18, 2008, 19:43 by Aviation Correspondent

WestJet Airlines, the low-cost airline based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, plans to start flights to four cities, including San Francisco and San Diego in California, the United States, in 2009.

The announcement by WestJet Airlines comes at a time when most carriers based in North American are cutting back flights.

The airline said in a statement that flights to the two Californian cities of San Francisco and San Diego from Calgary in Canada would start in June 2009 and will be offered three times a week.

Starting in May 2009, WestJet will fly to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, from Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), and will fly to Sydney (Nova Scotia, Canada) from Toronto (Canada).

WestJet Airlines also will fly direct, non-stop service out of London in the United Kingdom to Halifax and Vancouver in Canada from May 11, 2009, through October 2009.

WestJet started its London service in 2002 with just one daily flight, and the additional flights will bring the number of WestJet’s daily London flights to five.

The airline also has daily flights from London to Calgary and Winnipeg in Canada as well as to Orlando, Florida, the United States.

On December 15, 2008, WestJet Airlines launched seasonal non-stop service to La Romana in the Dominican Republic, as a part of the carrier’s enhanced winter schedule. Flights to La Romana will leave weekly (Monday) from Toronto at 11:15 a.m., arriving in La Romana at 4:30 p.m. The return flight will leave at 5:20 p.m., arriving back in Toronto at 8.59 p.m.

WestJet Airlines, which flies to most major cities in Canada and serves destinations in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, is the second-largest Canadian carrier behind Air Canada (third-largest including Air Canada Jazz). In 2006, WestJet Airlines was rated the second-best low-cost airline in North America.

Founded on February 29, 1996, by Clive Beddoe, Mark Hill, Tim Morgan and Donald Bell, WestJet Airlines aimed to follow the same path as Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, Texas, the United States, and Morris Air, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the United States, as a low-cost carrier. WestJet, which was initailly meant to be operated only in western Canada, soon became one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.

WestJet offers scheduled service throughout its 51-city North American and Caribbean network. The airline was named Canada’s most admired corporate culture in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The expansion by WestJet Airlines comes in the wake of retrenchment by carriers, including Air Canada, WestJet’s biggest rival.

The statement from WestJet Airlines said the company expected to increase seating capacity by 5% in 2009. At the same time, Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline and the country’s flag carrier, plans a reduction of 9% in the first quarter of 2009. Many airlines based in the United Stats also are cutting back flights as the global economic recession has lead to a slump in travel demand.

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