Carriers expand sun destination services to Ottawa airport

Competition & diverse choices benefit passengers

As cold weather takes hold across the National Capital Region, Canada’s largest charter and vacation airlines are ramping up their winter operations, directly connecting Ottawa with a growing number of sun destinations.

Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing, and WestJet collectively operate more than 50 non-stop flights – representing in excess of 7,000 seats – each week between Ottawa and more than a dozen destinations in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and the U.S.

The newest addition is Sunwing’s weekly service to Mazatlán on Mexico’s Pacific coast, which launches Dec. 17.

“An aircraft is a portable asset that can be deployed to almost any city,” says Mark Laroche the president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “The fact that Ottawa has so many carriers, serving so many destinations, is a testament to the confidence that airlines have in our market.”

In addition to the sheer number of getaway possibilities, local residents benefit in several other ways from the extensive charter and seasonal airline service at the Ottawa International Airport.

On a regional level, these airlines generate significant economic activity, creating and supporting aviation-related jobs.

Meanwhile, the competition between carriers benefits individual travellers through affordable fares and a diverse range of vacation destinations from which to choose.

Indeed, while all of Ottawa’s charter and leisure-service airlines specialize in comfortably bringing travellers to sun spots, they have significantly different business models – something that provides passengers with stability and choice to suit various travelling styles.

Sunwing, for example, is a vertically integrated company operating both aircraft as well as hotels and other on-the-ground services that allows it to be directly involved in multiple parts of their customer’s holidays.

Air Transat – which was rated the World’s Best Leisure Airline in 2018 by U.K. consultancy Skytrax – is also part of an integrated tourism company specializing in holiday travel.

Elsewhere, the combined fleet size of the country’s largest carrier, Air Canada – which operates a vacations division as well as Rouge, its lower-cost subsidiary – gives consumers a multitude of travelling possibilities.

And while WestJet is growing its long-haul fleet, the carrier hasn’t neglected its vacations arm as that is part of the company’s well-earned reputation for helpful and friendly service.

“We’re pleased with the range of options available to Ottawa-Gatineau residents looking for a winter break to a warm destination,” Laroche says. “It all adds up to a motivating case for local travellers to explore these exciting destinations.”

As airlines see Ottawa passengers supporting these existing flights, he adds, the business case for additional non-stop flights to more destinations becomes more compelling for the country’s air carriers.