November 17th, 2018

WestJet nears first flight

By Gillian Slade on June 14, 2018.

WestJet Link's three-per-day flights to Calgary are set to commence June 22.--SUBMITTED PHOTO 

WestJet’s flights to Calgary will commence in less than 10 days, significantly increasing activity at Medicine Hat Regional Airport.

The first arrival is expected June 22 at 11:15 a.m., says airport manager Jeff Huntus.

“We’re more than doubling our capacity.”

WestJet Link has contracted with Pacific Coastal Airlines to provide three flights each day to Calgary in a 34-seater Saab aircraft.

Necessary services at the airport were anticipated before recent remodelling and expansion.

“Our baggage was designed to accommodate more than this level of activity,” said Huntus.

Security screening of passengers is the responsibility of Canada Transportation Security Agency, which has hired several new staff members to handle the expanded service.

Pacific Coastal Airlines has already set up offices with computers installed and appropriate signs in place, Huntus says.

“I’m excited, and I’ll be even more excited on June 23 when it’s all … in place and everything is running as it should be.”

There will be a public event June 22, 10:45 a.m. at the airport to celebrate the commencement of WestJet’s services. There will be hotdogs, cake, punch and coffee served.

Flights from Medicine Hat to Calgary will give passengers the opportunity to choose connecting flights from that hub to numerous destinations.

“Calgary is WestJet’s largest hub”, said Huntus.

On the same date WestJet is also launching flights from Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Cranbrook and Prince George.

Air Canada also has a scheduled service from Medicine Hat to Calgary.

“I think that what we will see is a significant increase in the number of travellers,” said Huntus. “Air Canada, being a competitive organization, will maintain their own, I truly believe. WestJet … I think is going to spur some significant growth in air travel.

He says local studies in the past five years have consistently shown that for every passenger flying out of Medicine Hat, four others are driving to Calgary.

Increased competition, lower fares and better service is going to encourage many of those travelling by road to take a flight instead.

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