Fly to Toronto in 20 minutes? Nextjet to offer flights from Region of Waterloo airport later this year

High-speed rail and all-day, two-way GO service have been promoted as the best way to connect Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, but could flying to downtown Toronto be the answer to commuter concerns?

Flights would cost about $100 one way, the airline's president says

Nextjet wants to offer customers 20-minute flights between Kitchener and Toronto's city centre airport starting later this year. (Nextjet/Twitter)

Two-way, all-day GO train service has been touted as the answer to the travel woes between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, but a new airline is suggesting that flying might be better.

Nextjet — which just launched service between Montreal and Peterborough and will offer morning flights between Kitchener and Montreal starting May 30 — is hoping to start offering flights between the Region of Waterloo International Airport and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport later this year.

"I think there is a demand for it, if priced properly," Waterloo International Airport general manager Chris Wood said Tuesday, noting the region would be thrilled to have a direct Kitchener to Toronto flight. "I don't think people are willing to pay whatever to get there, but I think there is a certain price where people are willing to pay for that service." 

Nextjet president Tan Ahmed said the flights would take about 20 minutes and would cost approximately $100 one way.

"We have a lot of people who are looking for that service," Ahmed said, adding customers have indicated they'd be willing to pay to get into the city more quickly. "You have one customer, they're price conscious, then you have a customer for them, time is everything."

Mayors tout tech corridor

Ahmed said they are very aware of the commuter concerns between Waterloo region and Toronto.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Toronto Mayor John Tory have been promoting the idea of a tech corridor between their two cities, and have said all-day GO service or high-speed rail is needed to help the area succeed.

"We need to build our reputation as a place where great talent is nurtured, industries can grow and where we engage the public in finding innovative solutions," Tory said in February.

Ahmed said he sees his airline offering a service that would compliment other transportation services.

"It's exactly like a float plane service. I'm from Vancouver, so I see that service. If you have a ferry, you can take a ferry, too. Or if you want, you have the option to take a plane. It's exactly the same thing," he said.

Flights to Ottawa, Montreal

Ahmed said he expects it would mostly be business customers on the airline's small, nine-seater planes, but he hoped the price tag is affordable enough that anyone could use it.

"We want to offer whatever the demand is," he said.

Nextjet was set to begin flights between Kitchener and Montreal on May 2, but Ahmed said they had to completely rework their schedule to better accommodate customers.

Now, the planes will remain in the local airport overnight and, starting May 30, flights will leave Breslau at 6:45 a.m. There would be a stop in Peterborough and Ottawa if necessary, but if not, the flights would continue on to Montreal. Ahmed said this is the plan as they get off the ground, but more direct flights will be offered in the future.

with files from Colin Butler


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