WestJet is scrapping several flights from Calgary and Edmonton in favour of a beefed up schedule out of Toronto.
The Calgary-based airline confirmed Monday that WestJet Encore is reducing service from Calgary to Edmonton as of March 5, dropping one daily flight in each direction from the schedule.
WestJet executive vice president Bob Cummings said business travel demand within and into Alberta started to drop in April and is expected to continue its decline this year.
"We have discounted prices to fill seats, and we've backfilled the business travel with leisure travel, so prices have reduced significantly over the last two to three months," Cummings said.
"Overall reduction in demand has declined as well, so we are seeing a reduced number of guests."
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WestJet is also cancelling all service from Calgary to Terrace and Prince George, and reducing service from Calgary to Brandon, Penticton and Fort McMurray
A sign of the times
Airline analyst Rick Erickson said the move is a sign of the times.
"WestJet is based in Alberta and has been very much focused on the oil and gas business throughout the province," he said.
"With the downturn that we've seen of late, it's not surprising to see WestJet cutting back on capacity."
Daily service between Edmonton and Nanaimo and Kamloops is also being cancelled, and flights from Edmonton to Abbotsford and Grande Prairie will be less frequent.
Erickson said airlines, like any other business, will allocate their resources based on demand, and he expects that once the economy rebounds, many of these routes will return.
As it cuts services in oil-slump suffering Alberta, WestJet is transferring more of its capacity to Eastern Canada.
The airline is adding several new flights between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal as well as to Atlantic destinations like Halifax and Fredericton.