REGINA - Air travellers in Saskatchewan have one less airline option for direct flights to Calgary.
It has been learned Air Canada is suspending all of its direct flights to and from Calgary out of Saskatoon and Regina. The airline currently flies two direct flights out of Regina and Saskatoon airports daily. The direct flights will end after Jan. 15.
Travellers hoping to fly direct to Calgary will need to rely on other carriers, with WestJet continuing its flights from both airports.
Air Canada has responded to SASKTODAY.ca with this statement:
“Air Canada has made some changes to its flights to/from Calgary. We are continuing to rebuild our business in a prudent and disciplined way and that means looking at every aspect of our network and deploying our resources where they will be most productive. After careful review, we've decided that we must continue to strategically focus on rebuilding our main hubs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to suspend a number of regional routes from Calgary airport effective mid-Jan. 2023.
“While changes are made on some regional routes, it is important to note that Air Canada will continue to fly to every community it currently operates in. Saskatoon and Regina will continue to see flights to/from Toronto and Vancouver.”
On Wednesday, Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison issued this statement on the situation:
“We are disappointed, but not surprised, that Air Canada has cut direct flights from Regina and Saskatoon to Calgary given that the airline is reducing the size of their Calgary hub and has cut many flights to other Alberta and B.C. communities. The Government of Saskatchewan will continue to work with local airport authorities to attract, retain and expand direct air service routes to and from our province.”
The news of Air Canada cutting its Calgary flights drew a reaction Thursday from Economic Development Regina.
On Thursday, Economic Development Regina made public a letter written by Chris Lane, its President and CEO, and sent to Air Canada’s top executives.
“It is with disappointment we learned of Air Canada’s decision to suspend direct flights between Regina and Calgary, effectively tripling the travel time between the two centres. As one of Canada’s fastest growing economies and population areas, the need for connectivity and the opportunity it presents for airlines is as necessary as it is mutually beneficial.”
Lane also pointed to Regina being the home of “some of the most significant players in the Canadian economy,” pointing to companies including Viterra, Farm Credit Canada, Brandt, Harvard Developments, AGT Foods, The Mosaic Company, and Raven Industries. He also pointed to Agribition and Canada’s Farm Show.
“That the flag carrier airline of Canada would choose to suspend direct connectivity between these regions at this time is more than disappointing; it is ill-considered. EDR stands ready to join in these types of conversations and it is with hope and respect that we ask you to reconsider this operational decision and commit to a renewal and eventual expansion of service to Regina. It is good for Air Canada, it is good for Regina, and it is good for the country.”
Regina Airport disappointed, cites Calgary as important route for them
As expected Regina International Airport was disappointed to hear the news of Air Canada ending the direct flights to Calgary.
“We know how important of a destination that is for many people, as well as in times past it’s been a big connection point to a lot of places,” said Justin Reves, Manager, Customer Experience and Marketing for the Regina Airport Authority.
“But as we’ve learned a little bit more, it’s not anything directed towards Regina, it’s part of a larger shift in strategy from Air Canada.”
He noted the airline were drastically reducing services at airports like Kelowna, Edmonton and Winnipeg and other places, in favor of increasing service at their main hubs of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
“They’re really just shifting their strategy away from Calgary, so it’s Calgary that’s going to bear the brunt of it.”
Reves also noted WestJet has three to five flights to Calgary daily and in March it should expand to five or six flights a day. The airport says it will work to find more direct flights to and from Calgary, and expects airlines will be weighing their options with the news from Air Canada.
“We should be well served. Our other hope for us is that it creates an opportunity for a low cost carrier to come into the market and serve that route, as it is the number one destination from Regina is to Calgary for our airport.”