By Matthew Smith
West Jet has announced it will buy 20 new Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop planes to launch a low fare branch of the airline.
Public relations manager for the airline Robert Palmer said the new fleet will give travellers more options.
“We want to bring low fares to smaller Canadian communities, to liberate Canadians in those communities from the high cost of air travel and also to deliver our award winning guest experience to more Canadians so we’re literally doing an encore,” said Palmer. “Early 2013 is when we’ll reveal the list of the first group of communities that we’re going to fly to.”
West Jet currently flies to 81 cities in 14 different countries with 8,600 employees.
Palmer said each Bombardier Q400 will have a price tag between $30 and $40 million whereas the average West Jet Boeing 737 costs from $50 to $60 million.
“The Bombardier Q400 will have 78 seats which is roughly half the number of seats of the average West Jet Boeing 737,” said Palmer. “Having a regional arm with smaller aircraft is a logical next step for West Jet because we’ve always had interest in smaller communities to fly there but, when your average 737 seats 136 people, that’s just way too many seats for a small community to be able to fill on a daily basis.”
Palmer said West Jet Encore will launch flights in the second half of 2013.
There’s still no word yet on what side of the country Encore will start flights but Palmer said an announcement will be made by the end of this year.