WestJet increased fees it charges domestic travellers in September by 30 per cent, or between $4 and $7 per flight, citing a rate increase imposed by Nav Canada, the federal organization that operates air traffic control operations.
All operations at airports in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Sydney, Nova Scotia, are suspended for what WestJet termed to be a "temporary closure" according to a news release. A return to service date is unknown at this time.
WestJet typically used to transport about two million paying customers a month on its flights, but since the pandemic began in March, it has only sold about 1 million tickets, total. The airline has also worked to grow Halifax as the Atlantic gateway to Europe through the introduction of successful nonstop transatlantic service to London-Gatwick, Paris, Glasgow and Dublin since 2016, providing key economic and tourism links between the regions.
"The lack of travel demand combined with domestic quarantines means that sadly we can no longer maintain our full Canadian network of service, " CEO Ed Sims said in a video post. "Our intent", he said, "is to return as soon as it becomes economically viable to do so". These permanent layoffs do not include airport staff from affected Atlantic airports due to WestJet's previous airport transformation announcement. The company previously announced layoffs in June.
The cuts eliminate more than 100 flights weekly starting November 2, and remove almost 80 per cent of WestJet's seat capacity from the Atlantic region, WestJet said. The airline has parked 70 per cent of its fleet and laid off thousands of employees. A WestJet flight from Calgary arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S. on Monday, July 6, 2020.
Service between Halifax and Calgary will remain with nine weekly flights.