On Wednesday, June 20, the first WestJet flight from Calgary (YYC) into the Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) landed just after 11am. YXC is a one hour drive from Fernie and is our nearest airport.

Many dignitaries were on-hand to celebrate the new service and spoke about the amazing opportunities for the communities in the region that the WestJet flights will offer. Locals can now connect to WestJet’s extensive route network and inbound travellers from across Canada can travel to enjoy all that the Kootenay Rockies region offers.

“Kootenay Rockies Tourism is extremely pleased with the launch of the new WestJet service. Not only will this additional service serve residents and business travellers well, but visitors to our region now have a new viable option to experience all that the Kootenay Rockies region has to offer from the Calgary gateway. The new service is very exciting and will offer new business opportunities for our stakeholders.” Kathy Cooper, CEO Kootenay Rockies Tourism.

Robert Palmer, the manager of public affairs for WestJet, attended the opening and reminisced that the events of the day echoed the success story of WestJet itself.

“I’m reminded of how WestJet launched some 22 years ago,” he said. “To provide Canadians with more competition, more choices, and in doing so, providing lower airfares to make travel more affordable. Today we launch WestJet link, to do exactly the same thing for Canadians in small and medium-sized communities.”

In an interview following the ceremony, Palmer explained that a crucial part of the partnership was finding the right aircraft to suit the size of the community.

“The [Saab] 340B is one of the most popular commuter aircraft in the world. It’s a tremendous aircraft and it has the right seats, the number of seats on it, and that in combination with the right frequency is going to give us the success that we’re looking for here in the East Kootenay.”

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