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Air Canada to boost capacity on 19 domestic routes

Air Canada will increase capacity during the second quarter on 19 domestic routes as it rolls out new Bombardier Q400 service to some cities, says the airline.

"This spring, Air Canada will strategically increase capacity by either scheduling larger aircraft or adding flights to meet strong demand in Western Canada and we will continue to roll out the Q400 aircraft on additional routes in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories in the coming months", says Marcel Forget, Air Canada's vice president, network planning "Air Canada Express flights are scheduled to enable convenient, point-to-point, same-day business travel, as well as convenient and easy connections to Air Canada's extensive domestic, US and international network at Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver."

Montreal-based Air Canada introduced its Q400 service today on the Edmonton-Regina and Edmonton-Saskatoon routes. Those cities will see capacity double immediately compared to the same time in 2012. Vancouver-Fort McMurray will also see capacity double in May, and Calgary-Portland, Oregon service will increase in July 2013. Several other routes from Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary to smaller cities will see a boost in service.

Jazz Aviation is flying the new Q400s as Air Canada Express. In March, the regional airline will begin Q400 service from Calgary to Edmonton, Victoria and Grande Prairie, as well as Edmonton to Fort McMurray. Service will start later in the year on Calgary-Yellowknife, Edmonton-Grande Prairie, Edmonton-Yellowknife, Vancouver-Prince George, Vancouver-Fort St. John.

Air Canada first announced it would boost the frequencies in Western Canada with the Q400 in October 2012. The aircraft are the first of six that Chorus plans to receive between February and April at a rate of two deliveries per month. Jazz is removing 9 Bombardier CRJ100 aircraft in connection with deliveries of the six aircraft, which were six of 15 options that Chorus turned into firm orders in June 2012.

WestJet's new regional carrier Encore is expected to compete with Air Canada for the same traffic in Western Canada. The airline is looking to stimulate traffic through offering attractive prices, said WestJet chief financial officer Vito Culmone during a 25 February investor conference.

WestJet had planned to introduce Encore's initial routes in late January, but that announcement has been pushed back to sometime in February.

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