WestJet, headquartered in Calgary, confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday, following the initial report by CTV, that it will temporarily suspend its once-a-day flight route between Canada’s two largest cities.
WestJet Halts Toronto to Montreal Flights
This decision is attributed to performance-related factors and aligns with the airline’s strategic goal of expanding its presence in Eastern Canada for the winter season.
The expansion involves increasing non-stop connectivity to Western Canada and offering more affordable leisure and sun travel options across Canada.WestJet intends to recommence this service in April of the following year.
John Gradek, a former Air Canada (AC) executive currently teaching aviation management at McGill University, interprets WestJet’s decision as a strategic move aimed at capitalizing on its strengths in Western Canada.
He elaborated in an interview, stating
“They are choosing to forgo flights between Montreal and Toronto in favor of longer-haul Canadian routes. WestJet is reallocating the resources formerly dedicated to Montreal and Toronto to serve other long-haul markets, with a particular focus on non-stop services to and from Calgary.”
In a parallel development, Air Canada has also made route adjustments due to an ongoing pilot shortage. The Montreal-based carrier recently announced reductions in various routes departing from Calgary, including the discontinuation of non-stop flights to Ottawa, Halifax, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Cancun, and Frankfurt.
Two Hubs on the Rise
WestJet’s Shift Reduces Competition on Busy Toronto-Montreal Corridor
Before WestJet’s recent move, the Toronto-Montreal corridor enjoyed extensive service, boasting more than 360 weekly flights operated by four carriers, as per aviation data firm Cirium.
However, WestJet has significantly reduced its Toronto-Montreal flights, operating 80 percent fewer trips compared to 2019. This reduction is part of the company’s broader route cuts in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada as it refocuses on Western Canada.
John Gradek, an aviation expert, notes the clear trend of WestJet consolidating its operations in Western Canada while Air Canada strengthens its presence in Eastern Canada.
Gradek describes this shift as an evolution of the traditional hub strategy, with WestJet centering around Calgary and Air Canada focusing on Toronto and Montreal. The consequence of this evolution is reduced competition among carriers, leading to fewer choices for Canadian consumers.
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