WestJet, the Calgary-based airline, has announced the temporary suspension of its flights between Canada’s two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, for the upcoming winter season. However, the airline has plans to resume this route in April of the following year.
This decision comes as part of WestJet’s strategic move to enhance its presence in Eastern Canada during the winter months by focusing on increased non-stop connectivity to Western Canada and offering more affordable leisure and sun travel options across the country.
This move follows a turbulent year for the airline industry, during which WestJet acquired vacation carrier Sunwing and discontinued its discount carrier, Swoop. According to John Gradek, an aviation management lecturer at McGill University and former Air Canada executive, WestJet is concentrating on its strengths in Western Canada.
By temporarily suspending routes between Montreal and Toronto, the airline can allocate resources to longer-haul Canadian flights and prioritize non-stop services to and from Calgary.
Notably, Air Canada has also made adjustments to its route network due to an ongoing pilot shortage. The Montreal-based carrier has had to reduce various routes out of Calgary, including non-stop service to destinations such as Ottawa, Halifax, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Cancun, and Frankfurt.
Gradek points out that WestJet’s strategy seems to involve consolidating efforts in Western Canada, while Air Canada strengthens its presence in Eastern Canada. This suggests an evolution of the typical hub strategy, with WestJet centering around Calgary and Air Canada focusing on Toronto and Montreal. However, this trend may result in reduced competition among carriers within their respective regions, potentially leading to fewer options for Canadian consumers.
In summary, WestJet’s decision to temporarily suspend flights between Toronto and Montreal reflects its strategic shift towards expanding in Eastern Canada during the winter season and prioritizing non-stop services to and from Calgary.
This move aligns with broader developments in the Canadian airline industry as carriers adjust their strategies and route networks to meet changing demands and challenges.