This morning at 11:28 AM (Mountain Time), Westjet Encore‘s first passenger flight left Calgary, Alberta (YYC) for Nanaimo, BC (YCD). The flight was operated by one of the two 78-seat Bombardier Q400s that Westjet Encore has received from their initial order of 20 planes. The other initial destinations for this soon-to-be-growing regional airline are Fort St. John, Victoria and Vancouver, BC, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Brandon, Manitoba will be added in early September. They’ll continue to grow as another 5 Q400s come into the fleet before year-end.
It’s clear that Westjet has positioned their new airline to try and break the monopoly that Air Canada Express (Jazz Aviation/Chorus Aviation) has enjoyed over the years in many smaller Canadian communities. In fact, Ferio Puglieses, the new airline’s President, is pretty blunt about their objectives: “WestJet Encore is here to liberate smaller communities from the high cost of regional air travel while continuing to provide every guest with our award winning culture of care.”