WestJet says it ‘proactively’ reduced its summer flight plans | CBC News

WestJet says it will have fewer flights this summer compared to July 2019, in an effort to provide “stable operations” as soaring travel demand in Canada outpaces airport staffing capabilities.

That means the country’s second-largest airline will fly about 530 flights a day this summer instead of the more than 700 of two years ago — 25 per cent less — according a statement released on Thursday. 

The airline had said earlier this year it aimed to restore “94 per cent of its pre-pandemic routes with more than 600 daily departures network wide” this summer.

But CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech now says the Calgary-based airline made a series of “proactive” schedule reductions between March and May.

He says Toronto saw the bulk of the cuts, as WestJet anticipated snarls and delays at Canada’s biggest airport this summer. Toronto’s Pearson airport will see 32 per cent fewer flights in and out.

The entire travel industry has been struggling to ramp back up to meet surging demand in the wake of the removal of COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Some of Canada’s major airports have seen a surge in travellers and, as a result, longer than normal wait times — a problem the aviation industry has blamed on a shortage of federal security and customs officers.

Most domestic flights to Canada’s busiest airports were delayed or cancelled over the past week.

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