Direct flights from the Brandon Municipal Airport to Toronto will now be available this summer, WestJet announced Monday.

"By putting a link to Toronto, probably the largest air hub in Canada, it [gives] western Manitoba air travellers virtually a portal to anywhere in the world, especially to the east," Brandon mayor Rick Chrest said. 

Until now, Chrest and other air travellers from Brandon had to drive about two hours to the Winnipeg airport. 

"You add that in both directions, it certainly adds to your whole excursion," he said. "I've done it many many times both as a business traveller and with my family."

Flights from Toronto to Brandon will arrive in Brandon late-evening and depart from Brandon early-morning four times a week starting June 28. The flights will be offered until September 5 with the potential to extend the schedule based on demand, WestJet said in a news release.

"I'm both very hopeful and very optimistic," said Chrest. "We feel very strongly that the market is there."

Brandon already has direct flights to Calgary.

"By having both Calgary and Toronto direct services from Brandon, it really rounds out the opportunities for air travel for both business and personal travel for people of western Manitoba," Chrest said.