Airline chops direct Sask.-Ottawa flights

Air Canada is ending direct service between Saskatchewan's two largest cities and Ottawa, effective this fall.

Air Canada is ending direct service between Saskatchewan's two largest cities and Ottawa, effective this fall.

"For Regina-Ottawa and Saskatoon-Ottawa, the non-stop flights will be redeployed for an additional non-stop flight to Toronto," Angela Mah, a spokeswoman for the airline, told CBC News Wednesday. "The reason for this is to enable us to maximize all the connection opportunities for our customers due to demand."

Starting in October, Mah said, both Regina and Saskatoon will have a total of four direct flights to Toronto every day. People will be able to connect from that hub to Ottawa.

Air Canada provides service to Saskatchewan using its Jazz-branded planes.

Direct Jazz flights to Ottawa from Regina were launched just a few months ago. Saskatoon to Ottawa flights were launched in the spring of 2008.

MP criticizes move

Ralph Goodale, the Liberal MP for Regina-Wascana, decried the change in service. He said he believes the Ottawa flights were popular.

"That's what's so mystifying about this decision." Goodale said Wednesday. "One would think if you've got a good route and people are satisfied with the service and they're using it with a high rate of frequency, why not leave it in place and do good business?"

Mah defended the airline's decision, noting that direct flights to Ottawa may resume in the spring.

"Toronto is our primary hub," Mah said. "It's got worldwide connections as well as connections to all points across North America. We have found that there is demand for Toronto primarily for those connections.

"So, therefore, a commercial decision was made to increase the number of flights to Toronto," Mah said.

"We have every intention of reinstating the non-stop flights to Ottawa next spring. And so that schedule is still being put together and any announcements will be made in due course."

Goodale said he thinks air travel through Toronto can be difficult and time-consuming with a greater risk for flight delays and lost luggage.

Goodale also insisted his complaint is not related to his work as an MP.

"It doesn't have a personal effect on me because I haven't been able to use the direct flight anyway," Goodale said. "It goes at the wrong time of day to fit in with parliamentary business.

"But a lot of Saskatchewan people have used the flight."