One day after Air Canada announced it was reducing its summer schedule by 15 per cent “in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate,” rival WestJet announced its own significant schedule reduction – but one that was apparently made months ago.
The statement on the airline’s web site, posted on 30JUN – the day before the Canada Day long weekend began on 01JUL, and apparently following a meeting between Transport Minister Omar Alghabra and WestJet’s CEO – says its “proactive” measures are “to ensure we can deliver a stable operation” amid massive, ongoing disruptions at Canada’s busiest airports.
According to WestJet, the airline had been, “planning our schedule responsibly to accelerate Canada’s recovery,” with what it calls a “very measured” approach to scheduling.
WestJet says it’s “currently scheduled to operate 21 per cent less capacity in July 2022 than we did in July 2019. Our proactive efforts have been foundational to our summer planning and when comparing our current capacity to that of 2019, where we operated more than 700 flights a day, this summer we will operate 25 per cent fewer flights, averaging approximately 530 flights a day.”
In an interview with BNNBloomberg, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said that, “We have hired more than 1,000 people over the last couple of months. We have increased our call center staffing by 20 per cent. But you know it’s not happening overnight.”
He added, “We’re doing whatever we can. We are mitigating any of the problems but we will see a difficult summer for sure,” he said, predicting additional “short-term cancellations” to manage “daily challenges.”
CTVNews quotes von Hoensbroech as calling the situation “unprecedented.”
“I can just apologize like many other airline CEOs are as well that this is a very, very challenging time as demand is recovering,” he explained.
“It’s not just airlines, it’s many, many parts of the travel chain that are dealing with the same challenges. Whether it is airports, suppliers, government agencies. If just one of the pieces of this chain won’t work, you see ripple effects through the entire chain.”