Prince George residents who need to visit the Fraser Valley will soon be able to bypass Vancouver.
WestJet announced this morning (March 26) its adding a non-stop service between YXS and Abbotsford (YXX) starting June 25, 2021, as part of its efforts to help revamp the travel and tourism industry in western Canada.
It's one of 11 flights added to the company's summer schedule, stating it's anticipating a high demand for domestic seasonal travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prince George to Abbotsford is the only WestJet flight added to the local airport's agenda, which will be a twice-weekly service on Fridays and Sundays.
It's also a revitalized route as it used to operate out of YXS several years ago.
"As we look to the coming months with cautious optimism, we know our restart agenda will be pivotal to Canada's economic recovery," said WestJet Presidents and CEO Ed Sims.
"Stimulating air travel benefits all Canadians and supports those hardest hit; with one in every 10 Canadian jobs tied to travel and tourism, the ripple effect benefits our whole country."
The Prince George Airport Authority (PGAA) says passenger numbers dropped by 64 per cent last year compared to 2019, with April, May and June being the hardest hit months.
All three months saw declines of at least 91 per cent compared to those same months in 2019.
“It was an unprecedented year for all as COVID-19 turned our world upside down," PGAA President and CEO Gordon Duke in an earlier statement.
“The aviation industry has been hit incredibly hard as travel restrictions and limitations were in place for the majority of the year.
"The number of flights cancelled and airlines who temporarily suspended operations out of YXS forced our management team to pivot and look at other revenue opportunities."
However, with COVID-19 vaccinations underway, WestJet, in particular, is hopeful the additional flights can provide a sense of relief for tourism so long as residents can continue to follow all precautions.
"If Canadians were to shift two-thirds of their planned international-leisure travel spend towards domestic tourism, it would help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate recovery by one year, all while seeing what Canada has to offer," Sims explains.
Additionally, Prince George's airport is implementing a new system that's set to provide enhancements to its safety and security during COVID-19.
More information on that announcement is available in the post below.
- with a file from Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters, and The Canadian Press