Canadian airlines to cause difficult travel in the off-season

Public transportation in less populated Canadian regions has been an ongoing issue among travelers. Taking the bus or train is difficult and time consuming, but on the other hand, flights have a larger price range depending on the season. With the number of flights dwindling from regional airports, more customers are being forced to commute to international airports. The additional costs of traveling to these urban airports can become quite steep. While airlines cannot always cater to every region’s needs, these unavailabilities prove to be increasingly frustrating for travelers.

Airlines such as Swoop and Flair were rescuers to Atlantic Canadians struggling with travel costs. Swoop was an ultra-low-cost airline that was run by WestJet — another major Canadian airline. It offered flights out of both regional and international airports, such as Moncton, Halifax, Deer Lake, Charlottetown, and St. John’s. This benefited Atlantic Canadians, as there were increased opportunities to fly domestically. Additionally, connections to international flights were offered at a reasonable price. The airline was in service for five years before WestJet announced its shutdown in June of 2023. Permanent closure was a collective agreement made between WestJet and Swoop, in an effort to equalize the pay between pilots. This discussion was initiated following alleged plans for a pilot strike. Over the next three years, WestJet plans to merge the carriers together, along with its staff. Flights will remain ongoing and as scheduled until October 28, 2023.

Swoop may have been discontinued, but is Flair still an option? Offering flights out of Saint John, Halifax, Charlottetown, and Deer Lake for under $200 CAD round-trip, the airline is often an easy pick for Maritime citizens in need of cheap and direct travel. It provides a ton of options for both domestic and international travel from these regions. However, customers have complained about their experience with the airline. These complaints mainly consist of last-minute cancellations, baggage issues, delays, and poor customer service. For Atlantic Canadians, the more recent skepticisms revolve around scheduling — or lack thereof. Most of their calendars are full of scheduled flights for up to months in advance, while others are almost completely empty. Those that fly out of Halifax, Saint John, and Deer Lake are unable to book any domestic flights from November 2023 to May 2024. There are no official statements on any fall and winter cancellations for these regions, which is a cause for confusion among customers. It was announced, however, that Flair would be cutting their service in Charlottetown from November to May. This decision was due to the lack of demand, and projected difficulties in profit during these months. Without a solid schedule, and a lack of answers regarding whether flights are being offered at all, it has become nearly impossible to plan a trip. 

While the airlines’ decisions may have reason, there could be further efforts to upgrade general transportation in the more obscure regions of Canada. This would be greatly beneficial for those needing to travel for school, work, or family during the off-season.

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