Back in May of 2012 the Castlegar News reported an online petition to bring WestJet Airlines service to the West Kootenay Regional Airport had about 450 signatures.
Nelson resident Dirk Jonker, creator of the petition, said it now has almost 1,700 and is still climbing.
“I have already sent a hard copy of the petition back in February of this year to WestJet headquarters in Calgary,” said Jonker. “At the time it had 1,448 signatures on it.
“I felt the pinch to send them a copy right away, before they make another list of destinations they are wanting to serve and didn’t want to miss out. I live in Nelson, and fly as often as I can to Vancouver Island to visit family.”
For it’s part, WestJet spokesperson Brie Ogle said strong community grassroots campaigns reflect the spirit of the WestJet community, too.
“It is important to remember that Encore is just getting started,” said Ogle by email. “Moving forward, WestJet will take delivery of seven Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft in 2013: two in June, one in August and one every month for the rest of the year. The reason that Fort St. John and Nanaimo have been the only two cities announced so far is due to our delivery schedule, namely the fact that we will have only three aircraft by the end of the summer. With that in mind, WestJet has firm orders for 20 Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, as well as options on another 45, between now and the end of 2018. As we take delivery of more aircraft, we will announce service to more communities. We expect to make at least one more announcement before the end of 2013 with more announcements to follow in the years to come.”
Expanded air service to the western provinces has been a focus for many communities over the past few years, and WestJet has responded with additional flights.
WestJet flies an average of 420 flights every day.
Ogle said Castlegar was one of more than 30 Canadian communities that went to the WestJet campus in June 2012; presenting their best cases for service.
“We were very impressed with the compelling and comprehensive nature of their presentations,” wrote Ogle.