Very disappointing news for city and tourism, as WestJet cancels direct St. Johns-Dublin flight

\Very disappointing\ news for city and tourism, as WestJet cancels direct St. John\s-Dublin flight
WestJet Cancels Direct St. Johns-Dublin Service
"We understand this is disappointing news for the community and Newfoundland and Labrador overall and we are sorry we are unable to continue this flying in 2019," a spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

The St. John 's International Airport Authority said the launch in 2013 was the "most successful launch of a new route in WestJet's history."

“We understand that these are difficult decisions made with a business lens on the situation, but nonetheless, we will continue to aggressively advocate for increased access to this province with our partners at the St. John’s International Airport Authority, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, and others across the province. Addressing issues of access and transportation is absolutely essential if any strategy to grow inbound tourism to Newfoundland and Labrador is to be truly successful,” Laite said.

"We are very disappointed with this decision, but with continue to work with WestJet to grow their services from our airport," a spokesperson said in the airport's release.

“It is certainly a blow to the provincial tourism industry to lose another of our direct air links from Europe,” Hospitality NL chairman Larry Laite said in a news release. “A common phrase in the tourism community is that we receive no accidental tourists in Newfoundland and Labrador – it takes a concerted effort to plan a visit to this destination and ease of access to the province, whether by air, sea or land, is vitally important.”

WestJet to launch seasonal, non-stop service to Dublin from Halifax

St. John's Mayor Danny Breen said when he learned of the cancellation Thursday morning, he was "very disappointed."

As the Government of Canada develops a new federal tourism strategy to draw visitors from around the world, a fast and direct flight option from Europe to Canada, via Newfoundland and Labrador, is of great value to the province, the association said, adding travel to, from, and around the province, is often inhibited by issues of affordability, capacity, infrastructure and quality.

"We saw that as one of the essential links," Breen said, adding that he had heard the route wasn't doing as well as expected.

“We are very disappointed with this decision,” the St. John’s International Airport Authority stated in a release, “but we will continue to work with WestJet to grow their services from our airport.”

The route to Ireland has not been performing to the airline's expectations since its launch in 2013, the spokesperson said, and will therefore be discontinued.

The move is the latest in a series from the low-cost carrier this year. In January, WestJet axed a direct flight to London’s Gatwick airport and in August it dropped the Deer Lake to Halifax service.

"It's one of those things where we have to find a way, when aircraft carriers put these flights on, we have to find a way to ensure the ridership is there for them to continue," Breen said.

The company says it has made “considerable investments” in keeping the province connect to the rest of Canada and the world and insists it remains committed to growing aviation in the province.

WestJet is in the process of contacting anyone who booked a flight on the St. John's-Dublin route to inform them of the itinerary change through the Halifax route.

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador said it’s concerned by the news, less than a year after Westjet announced a similar move with its direct service to London’s Gatwick airport in January.

Cathy Duke, the chief executive officer of Destination St. John's, said it's definitely not good news that the flight is gone.

Not long after, however, the Calgary-based airline added a once-a-week direct flight between St. John’s and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. will begin service March 11 and continue until May 13.

"Our campaign [theme] was 'closer than you think,' and people were just blown away by the fact that you could get to Canada in just four and a half hours," Duke said.

“We understand this is disappointing news for the community and Newfoundland and Labrador overall and we are sorry we are unable to continue this flying in 2019.”

"We were getting there. I think we were making good progress, but from WestJet's point of view and looking at redeploying their planes and new routes, they felt that it would be better for them in Halifax."

Any passengers already booked for a non-stop flight will now be rerouted through Halifax. The airline says it’s in the process of contacting affected passengers.

Duke said in recent years, the Halifax airport authority had been "working very aggressively" to become a flight hub for eastern Canada.

But, she said, hope is not lost, as the last remaining direct flight to Europe from St. John's is still running: Air Canada's direct connection to London's Heathrow.

WestJets Boeing 737-MAX aircraft features the airlines Premium and Economy cabins, WestJet Connect and the Boeing Sky Interior. Flights are timed to optimize connectivity to and from flights from central Canada and the Atlantic provinces.

"There's always room for growth, larger planes or more frequent routes, so we're gonna make sure we are very good partners of their going forward."

CALGARY, Nov. 22, 2018 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced it is adding to its growing Atlantic gateway from Halifax with the addition of daily non-stop service to Dublin, Ireland starting April 29, 2019 through October 25, 2019.

This year, the Calgary-based airline has announced a number of route changes, axing a twice-daily flight from Deer Lake to Halifax, for example.

In October, soaring fuel costs, labour unrest and competition made a rough third quarter for WestJet Airlines Ltd., as profits plunged, compared to the same period a year ago.

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The St. John’s International Airport Authority says it is disappointed that WestJet has decided to eliminate its seasonal daily non-stop direct service between St. John’s and Dublin, Ireland.

The service was launched in 2013 – the most successful launch of a new route in WestJet’s history according to the airport.

The airport authority says it is disappointed with the new and will continue to work with the airline to expand their services from the airport.

WestJet says it did not take the decision lightly, but says the route was not “performing to expectation” and as a result they decided to discontinue the service.

The airline says it remains committed to growing aviation in the province and has recently added non-stop service between St. John’s and Fort Lauderdale in the spring of 2019.

WestJet is currently contacting all those who have booked flights on the St. John’s-Dublin route to let them know of the itinerary change.