By Winston Shek
WestJet Eyes New Service to Spokane with Regional Subsidiary
In a recent application to the U.S. Department of Transportation, WestJet detailed its intentions to add a new destination to its transborder network to the United States. Specifically, the Calgary, Canada-based carrier plans to launch flights to Spokane, Wash. using its regional brand: WestJet Link.
If all goes as planned with the application, Spokane will receive a daily flight to Calgary and a daily flight to Vancouver, allowing for the airport’s first scheduled international air service in more than a decade. From 1997 to 2004, the airport received its only international service from Calgary on Canadian regional carrier Central Mountain Air operating under the Air Canada code via Beech 1900D turboprop 18-seater aircraft. Earlier in the 1990s, United Airlines and now-defunct AirBC serviced Calgary from Spokane.
This move marks Spokane’s third newest airline slated to launch service at the airport. One of the U.S.’s latest airline startups, aha!, plans to start service later this year to Reno, Nev. on its Embraer E145 aircraft. Meanwhile, Sun Country plans to launch summer-seasonal services to its hub in Minneapolis on its Boeing 737s.
During the pandemic, Spokane benefitted from three new routes, including two new services to Las Vegas and Phoenix on Allegiant and a new American Airlines flight to Chicago. However, Spokane will lose some Frontier Airlines service as the carrier resumes its flying in August 2022.
It is unclear when WestJet will commence these flights, though this will mark WestJet Link’s only service to the U.S., not to be confused with WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore.
WestJet will launch its flights with Pacific Coastal Airlines’ Saab 340s, holding a total of 34 passengers in a 1-2 seating configuration. Currently, WestJet Link operates three Saab 340s, though a total of six Saab 340s can fly on the route.
WestJet Link was launched in 2017 to boost regional connectivity to WestJet’s hubs in Vancouver and Calgary. The regional airline started service in March 2018, expanding to several smaller regional destinations in Alberta and British Columbia like Medicine Hat. WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, operates the larger Bombardier Dash 8-400 to larger cities and some transborder hops to destinations like Boston or Nashville.
Currently, WestJet services 22 airports in the mainland U.S., including five destinations each in California and Florida. This winter, the Calgary-based carrier plans to add three routes to the mainland U.S., including a flight to its newest destination, Miami. In the Pacific Northwest, WestJet services Seattle and Portland, Ore., making Spokane a possible third destination in the region.
In addition to its moves in the U.S., WestJet plans to embark on a transatlantic expansion. Last week, the carrier inked a codeshare deal with Air Transat to expand the breadth of its European network. From Toronto, WestJet will launch new services to Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland with its Boeing 737 MAX, while from Calgary, Westjet will add new services to London and Rome, the latter of which was previously scheduled to launch in May 2020.