Northwestern Air Lease Ltd. is looking to extend its reach from Red Deer, with proposals for new passenger routes to Abbotsford and Fort St. John, B.C., currently before Transport Canada.
Brian Harrold, Northwestern’s general manager, said his company is awaiting approval from the national air traffic regulator. It would like to implement both routes as soon as possible, he said.
“In a perfect world, we’d be running now.”
The Fort Smith, N.W.T.-based airline currently offers twice-weekly service between the Red Deer Airport and Kelowna, B.C.
It also flies from the Central Alberta airport to Fort McMurray and back, twice a week. The latter route was launched on Oct. 1.
Northwestern flew between Red Deer and Dawson Creek, B.C., but suspended that service at the beginning of September. It plans to resume those flights and continue them on to Fort St. John, once Transport Canada approval is received, said Harrold.
He thinks an Abbotsford connection would appeal to local residents with family or business interests in Vancouver.
“It’s close enough that a cab isn’t that horrible to Vancouver, but it’s far enough out that it’s easy for us to get in and out of there with a smaller airplane,” said Harrold. “We’re not fighting with Air Canada and WestJet and everyone else.”
Northwestern has been discounting its Red Deer fares during the month of October, with one-way tickets to or from Kelowna selling for $159, and to or from Fort McMurray for $199 — inclusive of all fees and taxes. The regular prices are $270.90 and $343.35 respectively.
The airline plans to extend the sale with respect to its Kelowna route, until Dec. 15. However, the discounted price will only be available on four seats per flight.
Terry Harrold, Brian’s father and the president of Northwestern, said the response to the sale has been good, particularly in the case of Kelowna travellers.
“We’ve had quite a few people travelling in the last two weeks.”
Travel to and from Fort McMurray has also picked up, he added. That’s convinced Northwestern to offer direct flights from Fort McMurray to Red Deer, effective Nov. 4.
Currently, that route includes a stop in Edmonton, although flights from Red Deer to Fort McMurray are direct.
“I think we’re getting enough people now that it will sustain a direct flight,” said Brian Harrold.
Northwestern currently flies from the Red Deer Airport to Kelowna and back on Fridays and Sundays. Service between Red Deer and Fort McMurray is available Mondays and Fridays.
The airline uses 15-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft.