WestJet pushes back Encore route announcement

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Airline passengers travelling throughout Canada will have to wait until February to see which cities will be serviced by WestJet's new regional carrier, Encore.

WestJet executives told investors in November that the carrier would load Encore schedules on 21 February, but the airline says that announcement will now come "sometime" in February.

"Normally, the dates are not made public as we move them occasionally for various operational reasons," says WestJet. "We moved this one some time ago."

WestJet is planning to launch Calgary-based Encore in the second half of 2013. The carrier will focus on serving smaller domestic cities with a fleet of Bombardier Q400 turboprops. WestJet plans to take delivery of seven 78-seat Bombardier Q400s this year. It has a firm order of 20 Q400s with 25 options.

Air Canada has made regional fleet moves of its own for new domestic service. In October, it announced that it would start deploying Jazz Aviation's new Bombardier Q400s on 10 new routes from Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary-Fort McMurray and Regina-Saskatoon are planned to start next month, and flights from Calgary to Yellowknife, Grand Prairie, Victoria and Edmonton will initiate in March. Air Canada service from Edmonton to Fort McMurray, Yellowknife and Winnipeg will also commence later in the year.