KAMLOOPS — The downturn in the Albertan economy is having an impact on air travel options for Kamloops flyers. WestJet announced on Monday it is cancelling its daily direct flight from Kamloops to Edmonton starting March 5.
"It's not totally unexpected," says Kamloops Airport manager Fred Legace. "We have seen the last couple months the numbers on the Edmonton route start to decline. It's really a reflection of what's happening in northern Alberta with a downtown in Fort McMurray and that whole oil and gas sector."
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The daily flight to Edmonton was unveiled last February, hailed as a "game-changer" by the Kamloops Airport.
But economics have changed: lost jobs in the oil and gas industry leading to a slide in demand for the flight, and WestJet knew it didn't make sense to keep running.
In an email, Westjet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said "with the downturn in the economy, we are seeing less demand for travel to and from energy markets into areas across Canada."
For the passengers taking off to Edmonton at YKA on Monday, some say it'll have a major impact on their travel plans.
"My mom and dad live here and I live just outside of Edmonton," says passenger Jan Fortier. "We're planning a big 60th wedding anniversary party for them, and if we're going to have to fly to Calgary to get here, then we may as well drive."
Another passenger adds, "It's not going to affect me in any way because I don't work out there, but I imagine with the oil field the way it is, it's going to affect people travelling there."
Workers like Matthew White, who's on his way to Fort McMurray, say the cancellation is going to be an inconvenience.
"It may extend our flight time to get up to work," says White. "We'll have to do an extra stop to Calgary, then up to Fort McMurray. We'll have to leave earlier in the day. These 1:30 flights are nice because I get some extra time with my fiance."
The Kamloops Airport has four daily flights to Calgary, and come March, they will get a lot busier with travellers wanting to get to Northern Alberta.
Reduced service to Abbotsford, Grande Prairie and Calgary was also announced today. The following flights will be impacted:
- WS3221 from Edmonton to Kamloops and WS3220 from Kamloops to Edmonton have been removed from the schedule.
- WS3125 from Edmonton to Abbotsford and WS3124 from Abbotsford to Edmonton have been removed from the schedule. On a weekly basis, service between Edmonton and Abbotsford will fall from 21 flights to 14.
- WS3137 from Grande Prairie to Edmonton and WS3136 from Edmonton to Grande Prairie have been removed from the schedule. Two times daily service to Edmonton and three times daily service to Calgary will remain.
- WS3293 from Calgary to Edmonton and WS3207 from Edmonton to Calgary have been removed from the schedule. Ten times daily service between Edmonton and Calgary will remain
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