Passengers disembark one of two new Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplanes at Nanaimo Airport following Monday's inaugural WestJet Encore direct flight between Nanaimo and Calgary.

Passengers disembark one of two new Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplanes at Nanaimo Airport following Monday's inaugural WestJet Encore direct flight between Nanaimo and Calgary.

WestJet Encore takes to the skies

New regional carrier offers direct flights from Nanaimo to Calgary


A large crowd was on hand Monday, June 24 to welcome WestJet Encore’s inaugural flight to Nanaimo Airport.

As one of the airline’s new aircraft taxied toward the terminal local politicians, airport employees and passengers broke into applause. The flight arrived on time from Calgary in what WestJet Encore president Ferio Pugliese hopes is just one of many direct flights from Calgary to Nanaimo.

“This is just the beginning.Demand has been very good,” he said. “As time moves on and people

get more familiar with it and start to build plans, we think it’s only going to continue to grow.”

Nanaimo is one of two new Canadian cities — the other is Fort St. John — to be chosen for the first round of Encore flights. As the carrier acquires more airplanes over the next few years the regional service will expand to other communities across the country. Currently, Encore is operating just two new 78-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplanes but Pugliese said the company has already placed orders for 20 of the planes. They’ll be delivered one by one, roughly once a month, over the next two years and after that Encore has the option to order up to 25 more.

“It’s a great aircraft. It’s the next generation; it’s smooth, it’s fast, it’s quiet and it’s very fuel efficient,” said Pugliese. “The fuel efficiency allows us to move it quickly but also do it in a very affordable fashion.”

That affordability is expected to benefit the consumer as WestJet and Air Canada Jazz compete for ticket sales.  At the same time, the direct flights to and from central Vancouver Island are expected to boost the local economy, increasing tourism in the area and allowing people to travel easily to work in Alberta.

“It’s going to open up all of southern Alberta as well as Edmonton to the Nanaimo market. We saw what happened in Comox when WestJet came in there and we’re expecting the same type of economic stimulus with these direct flights,” said Russ Burke, chair of the Nanaimo Airport Commission. “It’s also going to make air travel a little bit cheaper because we see competition on the route .”

The plan to introduce a regional carrier to Nanaimo Airport has been in the works for about 10 years. In addition to removing trees and extending the runway, the airport has also installed an instrument landing system to make the facility more attractive to carriers.

On Monday, passengers were all smiles as they took advantage of the new service.

“I think it’s just terrific,” said Crofton passenger Pat O’Brien as he waited to board. “I’m really pleased to be able to fly directly to Calgary from here. It saves a lot of time but the convenience of it is the most significant feature for me.”

WestJet Encore departs Nanaimo for Calgary daily at 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit


Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Most Read