WestJet unveils LaGuardia schedule

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Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet has unveiled details of its new flights to New York LaGuardia airport following its win of eight slot pairs at the airport last year, as competition heats up among Canadian carriers in the Toronto-New York market.

From 4 June, WestJet will begin seven non-stop daily flights each business day between Toronto Pearson and LaGuardia. This will increase to eight flights daily from 12 July.

"Toronto to New York is the largest transborder market from Canada, and this new non-stop service, offered on our Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, will offer business and leisure travellers alike the convenience, comfort and affordability they've been looking for," said John MacLeod, WestJet's VP of network management and alliances.

"We continue to aggressively target the business traveller, particularly in the eastern triangle."

The airline has said it plans to increase its share of business travellers, and boosted its service on the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa routes last year.

WestJet recently signed a codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines, and WestJet passengers flying into New York will arrive at Delta's main connection area at LaGuardia, which will allow them to easily connect to Delta flights.

The Canadian carrier won the LaGuardia slots last November in an auction held by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after slots were divested due to a slot swap between US Airways and Delta.

WestJet's new LaGuardia schedule was unveiled as Canada's Porter Airlines also revealed that it will add two additional daily flights to its service between Toronto Billy Bishop and Newark, taking its schedule to as many as 13 round-trips a day.

"Demand for our Toronto-New York route continues to increase and we are responding with additional flights," said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter.

The carrier, which operates Bombardier Q400 aircraft, will add the first additional daily flight on 26 March, followed by the second on 16 April.

The unveiling of WestJet's and Porter's new New York flights follows Air Canada's announcement on 25 January that it would launch thrice daily non-stop flights between Toronto Pearson and New York John F. Kennedy from 3 May. Canada's flag carrier also said it would boost the frequency of flights between Toronto and LaGuardia to an hourly flight.

Air Canada will be the only airline to operate to all three New York airports: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark.

Besides competing against one another in the Toronto-New York market, the three Canadian airlines also face competition from the US mainline carriers. American Eagle Airlines and Delta offer connections between Toronto Pearson and JFK. Continental Airlines offers flights between Toronto Pearson and Newark.