Daily air service takes flight
The terminal building at Red Deer Airport got a lot busier on Tuesday, as Air Canada started scheduled passenger service out of the Springbrook-based aviation facility.
Nearly 100 people — including officials from Air Canada, the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County and the provincial and federal governments — gathered for a ceremony before the departure of an Air Canada Express Beechcraft 1900D for Calgary. The new schedule consists of three such flights every day: at 5:30 a.m., 9:35 a.m. and 2:10 p.m., with return flights from Calgary arriving at 9:12 a.m., 1:47 p.m. and 9:57 p.m.
These 42 new weekly departures and arrivals more than double the number of scheduled passenger flights previously available at the Red Deer Airport through Northwestern Air, which flies west to Kelowna and Abbotsford, and north to Fort McMurray.
“To think that a little over a year ago we started with four scheduled departures and arrivals from this airport per week,” said RJ Steenstra, CEO of the Red Deer Regional Airport Authority. “Today we grow to 60 scheduled departures and arrivals per week from Red Deer Airport.”
More significant is the fact those new flights dovetail with Air Canada’s national and international schedule out of the Calgary International Airport.
“It connects Central Albertans to the rest of the world through direct service out of Red Deer,” said Steenstra.
Angela Mah, Air Canada’s manager of media relations for Western Canada, stressed this connectivity as well.
“You are now one step away from going to London Heathrow, to Frankfurt, to Toronto, to Washington, to all these other places worldwide that Air Canada takes you to,” said Mah, who grew up in Red Deer. “It’s one ticket and one purchase price.”
She added that Air Canada has priced its Red Deer flights so that they’re an attractive alternative for passengers who might otherwise drive to the airports at Calgary or Edmonton.
“You will find that it’s very compelling to fly out of Red Deer, compared to flying out of Calgary.”
Steenstra said Air Canada’s new service should also raise the region’s profile.
“You can go to any travel site, see Red Deer on that travel site, and get to fly into Red Deer. It just puts Central Alberta on the map for everybody inbound.”
Mah said her company’s decision to expand its operations to the Red Deer Airport was motivated by the economic strength of the area.
Much of Alberta’s oil and gas servicing sector is based here, she said, and Red Deer is the province’s third largest city and growing rapidly.
Since Air Canada announced on July 10 that it would begin flying between Red Deer and Calgary, many Central Albertans have chosen Red Deer Airport as the starting point for their national and international trips, said Mah.
“We’re seeing people in our bookings right now booking to destinations across Canada, such as Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, but we’re really excited to see people are booking flights from Red Deer to California, to Chicago, to Washington, D.C., to Zurich in Europe, and to Tokyo.”
She said it’s important for area residents to rally around the new service, adding that Air Canada will increase the frequency of its Red Deer flights and dedicate larger aircraft to the routes if demand warrants.
Eamonn Horan-Lunney, Air Canada’s director of government affairs and community relations for Western Canada, said his company will seek to raise awareness that it is now operating out of the Red Deer Airport.
“We’ll be working with your community leaders in the coming months to make sure that you know our services and our products, so we take this to the next step.”
The Beechcraft 1900D airplanes flying between Red Deer and Calgary will be operated by Air Georgian under the Air Canada Express brand. The twin-engine turboprop planes have seating for 18 and a cruising speed of 500 km/h.
Air Canada flies to more than 175 destinations on five continents. These include 60 in Canada, 53 in the United States, and 67 in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America.
For more information about Air Canada or to book a flight, go to www.aircanada.com.