Encore comes to the Peace
Trent Ernst, Editor
After years of declining air service to the north, things seem to be picking up. The most recent aviation announcement: WestJet’s new Encore service will be operating daily non-stop service from Fort St. John to Calgary and Vancouver.
While there are currently two airlines that fly between Fort St. John and Vancouver, the prices are quite high. The cheapest flight between the two centres is currently $640 for a mid-week return flight on Air Canada’s Jazz service.
Central Mountain Air also flies out of Fort St. John. It is $1008 for the same flight.
The same trip on Encore comes in at $326.18, though this is a “special introductory price.”
Many people travelling down to Vancouver prefer to fly out of Grande Prairie. Although these flights are via Edmonton or Calgary, the cost is about $100 less that flying out of Fort St. John, or about $545 for a round trip.
Fort St. John is one of the first two cities to be served by WestJet’s Encore service. “The announcement of the first two cities to be served by WestJet Encore is an historic moment for our new airline,” said Ferio Pugliese, Executive Vice-President, WestJet, and President, WestJet Encore. “As Canada’s low-fare leader, we look forward to introducing our award-winning guest experience to Canadians in smaller communities while connecting to our network of 85 destinations in 18 countries.”
The second city that will be served by the new Encore service is Nanaimo, BC. WestJet is currently in the process of acquiring a fleet of Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft for their Encore line, which are smaller aircraft designed to serve smaller regional markets. WestJet will take possession of the first two 78-seat turbo-prop planes in June, with plans to begin service on June 24. The company will add five more planes to their fleet by the end of this year and 20 more over the course of the next six years, with options to add an extra 25 planes if the service takes off.
“We are very pleased to bring our new WestJet Encore service to the Energetic City,” said Chris Avery, WestJet Vice-President, Network and Schedule Planning. “The diverse nature of the region’s economic base of oil, natural gas, forestry and agriculture creates a strong foundation for this new service. We believe the Peace Country will appreciate our unique blend of high value, low fares and remarkable guest experience.”
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman says the announcement is another indicator of a healthy economy in her city. “We are thrilled to have more choices when it comes to air services and new connections to strategic cities in Western Canada, and are very proud that WestJet Encore sees our potential for great opportunity.”
Flights to Vancouver will leave Fort St. John at 8:15 am and 5:10 pm. Flights to Calgary will leave at 10:30 am.