WestJet suspends Fort McMurray to Kelowna service amid oil slump


WestJet is suspending its work from Fort McMurray to Kelowna, as workers report “scary leaden-footed” times at the northern Alberta airport due to the economic downturn.

The Kelowna exit, which was scheduled five times a week, will end starting Feb. 15, Fort McMurray airport president Scott Clements told CBC Intelligence.

Service between Fort McMurray and Red Deer has already been retracted, along with a daily flight to Denver, and the airport’s only global flight, which was to Mexico.

‘Suspended,’ not cancelled

‘We went from conjure up 10 planes a day, down to one plane a day.’ – Dave Bellew, Airport white-collar worker

Oil workers would regularly fly in from Kelowna, but with so many consigns lost and oil below $30 US a barrel, there isn’t enough demand, airport legals say.

“[WestJet is] not using the term ‘cease,’ they’re just practising ‘suspended’ because there’s 35,000 trips a year of workers come around c regard back and forth,” Clements said.

“When the trigger go ons and the economy turns around, that flight will be re-established, we’re confirmed by WestJet,” he added.

Fort McMurray’s $250-million airport ultimate opened in 2014.

While more than one million people ssed middle of the terminal last year, ssenger numbers are down 16 per cent.

‘Eerie slow’

Fort McMurray Airport Authority president Scott Clements

Fort McMurray airport president Scott Clements pronounces he remains confident things will turn around. (Fort McMurray Airport Judge)

The biggest drop occurred with charter flights, where tallies were down 50 per cent.

“The amount of volume and traffic is at best non-existent,” said ground handler Dave Bellew, who plies on the non-commercial side.

“We went from seeing 10 planes a day, down to one skate a day, if that. It’s scary slow,” he added.

Clements says, at the prominence, it’s a matter of weathering the downturn.

“We can pretty much survive at even another 10 per cent downturn without doing anything dotty, like raising our rates and charges,” said Clements.

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