WestJet continues to eye Atlantic Canada for Encore expansion

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WestJet continues to see Atlantic Canada as the “next logical step” for expansion of its regional subsidiary Encore, as the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 operator continues to march across Canada.

Expansion into the region would likely to occur after the regional airline launches service on the Toronto-Quebec City route in March 2015, says Peter Tong, director of corporate development and planning, on the sidelines of the Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA) Jumpstart conference in Edmonton on 26 June.

Quebec City will be Encore’s first destination east of Toronto, which began on 27 June.

Gregg Saretsky, chief executive of WestJet, has said previously that Encore will expand to cities in provinces like Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

The Q400 is capable of flying nonstop from Toronto to cities in Atlantic Canada, including Moncton and Charlottetown. However, Encore could choose to use cities, such as Montreal or Ottawa, as stopovers for the service.

Porter Airlines uses Ottawa as a stop on its Q400-operated flight between Toronto and cities in Atlantic Canada, but Air Canada operates the turboprops without stops from Toronto.

The USA also remains on the list for potential Encore service in the future, says Tong. While this remains a ways off – there are many cities across Canada that Encore can add – the Q400 opens up markets like Boston and Washington DC for the airline, he says.

Encore operates 12 Q400s and has 13 on firm order, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. It is taking delivery of roughly one aircraft per month.