WestJet Encore, WestJet’s regional airline, marks its fifth anniversary this month and Canadians across the country are reaping the benefits of increased competition, lower airfares, better connections and the creation of jobs in their communities.
Launched June 24, 2013, WestJet Encore has its genesis in the birth of WestJet some 17 years earlier. WestJet was purpose-built to introduce more competition and lower airfares for Canadians. It was designed to change air travel forever by eliminating silly rules (like having to stay over on a Saturday night to get a lower fare) and stripping away costs that made it so expensive to fly that air travel became a luxury for some.
WestJet Encore is designed to do the same thing for Canadians, particularly those in small and medium-sized communities whose populations are not large enough to sustain bigger jet aircraft. Historically, in markets where Encore has introduced service, particularly those markets previously served by a single carrier, fares have dropped by as much as 50 per cent while travel has increased by as much as 90 per cent.
Using Statistics Canada models, a study commissioned by WestJet in 2013 estimated that the projected total domestic economic impact of WestJet Encore when its fleet reached 45 aircraft would be at least $3.6 billion. This includes the creation of nearly 13,000 jobs (FTEs) with a collective labour income of $798 million along with additional annual operating expenditures of another $2.8 billion. Today, WestJet Encore’s fleet consists of 47 aircraft, two more than originally forecast.
Guests in communities such as Nanaimo, Fort St. John, Brandon and Sydney, Nova Scotia, have seen significant, even transformative changes. The entry of WestJet Encore service has meant not only lower airfares and more opportunities to travel for individuals and families, but large institutions in sectors such as health care and education are better able to recruit and retain top-level talent because we’ve increased access and connectivity to and from communities.
“The addition of WestJet Encore service between Brandon and Calgary has been a huge lift for Western Manitoba”, says City of Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest. “It is a boon to our business, health and education sectors in attracting and retaining personnel and is a great benefit to leisure travelers and sports teams as well. Our recent $10 million terminal expansion coupled with the fabulous Encore service has greatly improved air travel for our region.”
Indeed, WestJet Encore is enriching lives in communities from coast to coast. It is driving the growth of local and regional economies, creating jobs, enhancing transportation networks, connecting businesses and families, and enabling communities to unlock their potential.
“WestJet and WestJet Encore service has had a significant impact on Cape Breton,” says Cecil Clarke, Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality. “In addition to providing more choices and lower airfares, this service has helped improve our transportation networks, move business people and individuals in and out of the region, and market all that Cape Breton has to offer to the world.”
“Fort St John and area residents had a lot of fun with our ‘It just makes sense’ campaign and we are pleased that WestJet Encore agreed,” says Lori Ackerman, Mayor Fort St. John. “The introduction of WestJet Encore service from Fort St John to Vancouver and Calgary showed confidence in investing in our community and the service has provided our residents and industry with increased options and reduced fares. It really did just make sense.”
WestJet Encore has also racked up some pretty impressive numbers. In fact, it flew its 1,000,000th guest in July 2014, just over one year after it launched. By the end of 2017, it had flown nearly 13 million guests on some 235,000 flights to 39 different destinations in Canada and the U.S. And just how many miles has Encore flown? Some 119 million, which is about 250 round trips to the moon.
We are proud of our investment in and support of Canada’s aerospace sector through our fleet of 47 Canadian-made Bombardier Q400s. Earlier this spring Bombardier named the most reliable operator of Q400s in North America as part of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft’s 2017 Airline Reliability Performance awards. And in 2015, WestJet Encore flights arrived at their destinations on schedule more than 90 per cent of the time – the best among North American regional airlines – according to FlightStats.com’s seventh annual global on-time performance awards.
WestJet Encore has been an unqualified success in every respect, thanks in large part to the efforts of its amazing team of hard-working, dedicated WestJetters who strive to deliver a great guest experience every day. And to our loyal Encore guests, thank you for your business over the first five years. As we like to say at WestJet, if you weren’t in your seats, we wouldn’t be in ours.