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WestJet reducing direct service from Ottawa to Toronto starting in May


WestJet Airlines will be reducing service from Ottawa to Toronto starting May 1.

Currently, WestJet operates three flights daily to Toronto from Ottawa. According to the airline’s website, starting May 1, there will only be one direct flight per day, departing at 5:30 p.m.

This is the latest reduction in service for WestJet in eastern Canada. In the fall, direct flights from Ottawa to Halifax were suspended, and there were no winter flights out of eastern destinations such as Charlottetown, Fredericton, and Quebec City.

CTV News reached out to the airline. WestJet did not directly address the reduced Ottawa-Toronto service but did say they would be increasing service to western Canadian cities such as Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.

"We will be offering more seat capacity out of Ottawa this summer, when compared to last year's schedule," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "Most notably, our service between Ottawa and Edmonton is returning, operating 6x weekly; service between Ottawa and Vancouver will increase from 5x weekly to 11x weekly; and service between Ottawa and Calgary will increase from 14x weekly in 2022, to 19x weekly this summer."

The statement says, "We will operate service between Ottawa and Toronto daily." But does not specify how many flights daily will be operating.

Industry experts say this reflects WestJet’s shifting to focus on western destinations and long-haul, cross-Canada trips.

Aviation expert at McGill University John Gradek says, "They are retrenching and focusing on markets in western Canada, primarily Calgary. So, what you see now is the icing on the cake that reflects WestJet’s intention of getting out of shorter haul, eastern Canadian cities that are intercity market.

"Ottawa-Toronto, Ottawa to Quebec City, Montreal to Toronto, Quebec to Toronto… WestJet has said- 'we are out of that, and we are only going to fly passengers between western Canada and eastern Canada and not worry about putting those assets in intercity travel in Eastern Canada.'"

Gradek says WestJet is competing for business against other airlines such as Porter Airlines.

"I think you are going to see a very aggressive WestJet presence in western Canada, and a very aggressive Air Canada presence in eastern Canada to try to steal back the shares that they have lost from Flair and Lynx Air," he said. "It will be an interesting battle over the summer in terms of how much price competition is going to take place."

Gradek also says that travellers from Ottawa will still be able to fly to Toronto because other airlines will step in, but prices could increase.

"It will be cheaper to fly Ottawa to Vancouver than fly between Ottawa and Toronto this summer, that is my prediction," he said.

Many passengers say they will continue to fly out of Ottawa but say they will adjust and build time in for potential delays or waiting.

Having fewer options to fly direct for the Brewin family visiting from Newfoundland is disappointing, Rob Brewin says.

"That is going be brutal, it will only be Porter, I guess, or Air Canada," he said. "We need more airlines like that back home."

His wife Angela says, "We are used to WestJet… we have been traveling WestJet for years."

Ruth Strunz, flying to Orlando via Toronto, says she isn’t surprised to hear of reduced service out of Ottawa.

"They will do what they do, and we will just try to adapt. That seems to always be the way."

Paul Chartrand is a frequent traveller and says he will continue to connect in Toronto.

"It is better for the other airlines, I guess. If WestJet is getting rid of those flights, the other airlines will pick up those fares." Top Stories

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