Thunder Bay

Air Canada jets to whisk travellers between Thunder Bay and Toronto starting this spring

Travellers flying between Thunder Bay and Toronto will have a shorter flight starting on May 1, but fewer opportunities to make the trip.

New, larger aircraft will replace regional prop planes currently in use

Air Canada will be introducing its Rouge service to Thunder Bay starting this spring. (Mike Hillman/CBC News)

Travellers flying between Thunder Bay and Toronto will have a shorter flight starting on May 1, but fewer opportunities to make the trip.

Air Canada announced this week it would replace the regional propeller planes currently used on the route with larger, jet-propelled aircraft operating under its Rouge brand starting May 1.

"I would assume we're a good 20 minutes shorter flying time," said Ed Schmidtke, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay Airport Authority.

However, also changing is the number of flights offered per day, and, in turn, the number of seats available.

"Capacity ends up being a bit of a mixed blessing," Schmidtke said. "[Currently] we have six flights a day at 78 seats a go, and we're going to be converting to three flights a day at 136 seats a go."

'It's going to be interesting'

Air Canada will still be competing with Porter and Westjet for Toronto-bound passengers, Schmidtke said.

"It's going to be interesting to watch what happens over the course of the summer," he said. "For the first time in recent memory, we have true product differentiation in the market."

"Now, we have an airline providing fewer frequencies, but jet airplanes," Schmidtke said. "Some people are going to like that, some people are going to be disappointed and miss the frequencies."

"We have another carrier [Westjet] going into Pearson with the same number of frequencies, and, of course, we have Porter going into Billy Bishop with six or seven flights a day."

Schmidtke said it will be "interesting" to see how travellers respond to the change.