New terminal should mean opportunities for new routes, but to where?

A famous saying in the U.S. South goes, “to get to heaven or hell, you have to go through Atlanta”, a quote that reflects the dominance that Delta Air Lines’s huge global hub has over not just Georgia, but also its neighbouring states.

Though Winnipeg is a long way from the Deep South, the need to connect to get to anywhere beyond Vancouver, Montreal, Chicago or Denver remains a long-standing grievance in this city.

What are our prospects of getting a wider selection of flights at Winnipeg Airport? Offhand, there seems to be slim pickings.

As USA Today noted this week, airlines are turning their attention away from domestic markets, which offer thin profit margins and diminishing growth opportunities, in favour of foreign markets where demand is growing. Here in Canada, Air Canada has also made a major project out of turning Toronto into a major hub for business travelers in transit between Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia.

International flights, however, need domestic connecting traffic. It is there that there might yet be hope of attracting additional service to Winnipeg, especially since we have a new terminal with additional gate capacity at peak travel times.

The following is a closer look at some of the scheduled airlines that might be approached at some point about the possibility of flying to Winnipeg, and what opportunities and challenges that might pose for them.

The best hope seems to be for the restoration of something more than a nominal Oneworld alliance link to Winnipeg, or an additional Delta route to compete more effectively with Air Canada and United on Canada-Latin America routes.




About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

5 Responses to New terminal should mean opportunities for new routes, but to where?

  1. W. Krawec says:

    It is slightly disappointing that the new terminal has yielded no tangible improvements (unless I’m missing something?) in the form of new destinations or even additional frequencies out of Winnipeg’s airport.

    I don’t think it would take much to improve the air travel situation in Winnipeg. Getting on the OneWorld map, even in just the form of a AA flight to Chicago, would be a good start. One or two more United and Delta destinations would also be a godsend – dedicated Star Alliance users would probably rejoice at a direct UA flight to San Francisco’s Pacific gateway.

    I know that a lot of people hold up transatlantic service as the ultimate trophy, but I’m not convinced that will be a big deal other than providing bragging rights. Edmonton has one Air Canada flight a day to London, but the reality is that connection demands often force travellers out of YEG to connect in other cities for Europe anyway. In other words, it’s nice to have but certainly not essential. I’d be happy with better and more frequent connections to North American hubs that could turn two-stop trips into one-stop trips.

  2. theviewfromseven says:

    I wonder about the future of Air Canada’s Edmonton-London flight. It looks like it’s down to just three flights per week, according to, and the sale of former Star Alliance partner BMI British Midland to Oneworld’s British Airways is a big loss of connections to and from Air Canada’s U.K. flights.

    I’m also not convinced that transatlantic is worth aiming for. Unless it comes from cuts elsewhere, every new transatlantic route from a major European or Asian hub is a big investment in larger aircraft capable of making the long trip, and scarce take-off and landing slots; hence the trend toward signing up independents like WestJet as feeders. Also, many Winnipeggers would be happy enough just to see three-hop trips shortened to two hops.

  3. I don’t necessarily think it will happen, or even make financial sense but I would love to see direct flights to Halifax from Winnipeg. The best I’ve ever gotten is a quick touch down in Hamilton to pick up more people then on to Halifax. West Jet shows this as a direct but it isn’t, I guess they can call it direct because you don’t actually get off the plane in Hamilton, but rather sit there waiting for others to get on, and it keeps the same flight number. Alternatively a flight to Halifax usually involves a transfer in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal. I understand there probably isn’t enough people flying Winnipeg to Halifax to make it work but it sure would make my life easier. One can wish.

    I would also love to see Porter expand to Winnipeg, if they can handle it. I have many friends in the east that rave about Porter and I believe they are quickly picking up quite a following in the east.

  4. theviewfromseven says:

    That’s a good point about Porter. They have been flagged as a potential new airline at YWG. I’ve heard that the Dash 8 Q400s they use are difficult to keep within maximum take-off weight on longer runs, but they could still extend the Toronto-Thunder Bay route to include Winnipeg. The longer trip would be offset by the convenience of landing within a stone’s throw of downtown Toronto instead of way out at Pearson.

    Good point, too, about “direct”. It’s often though to be the same as “nonstop”, but it isn’t.

    P.S.: Halifax is one of my favourite Canadian cities! Spend six nights there on holiday in 2010, and thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

  5. It would be awesome to be able to land in downtown Toronto. In September I flew WestJet Winnipeg to Toronto Pearson. My friend flew Porter Halifax to downtown Toronto. We were meeting in Toronto for a concert and trip to Niagara Falls. She landed well after me but managed to get to our hotel downtown at the same time as me. And she didn’t have to pay to get from the airport to the hotel – she used the free shuttle – my cab from Pearson to downtown cost $55 each way.

    Halifax is a great city! But I’m a bit biased as I lived in Halifax for 11 years and before that grew up in the Annapolis Valley only 1 hour from Halifax 😉

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