WestJet Airlines plans to start service between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and two Canadian cities in January.
The Canadian carrier, which already serves several destinations in Canada from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, will offer non-stop flights to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, from the east Mesa airport.
The Calgary service will be offered three times a week beginning Jan. 19, the Edmonton service once a week on Saturdays beginning Jan. 21, both through April. Tickets went on sale Tuesday at westjet.com.
Introductory fares start at $140 roundtrip for travel between Mesa and Calgary and $200 between Mesa and Edmonton. The lowest prices are for travel in January. Those fares are cheaper than the starting fares for WestJet’s flights to the same cities out of Sky Harbor. A Phoenix-Calgary flight in January is about $240 on the airline’s website.
If WestJet’s new routes and start dates sound familiar that’s because charter travel company NewLeaf Travel Co., in conjunction with Flair Airlines, last week announced plans to start the same seasonal routes, on the same days, with round-trip fares starting at about $150. The only difference: New Leaf is selling tickets only for travel originating in Canada because of its charter status, while WestJet is selling tickets for trips originating in Arizona or Canada.
WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer said the low-cost airline, which has operated at Sky Harbor since 2004, has previously looked at also offering flights out of Mesa.
“WestJet is Canada’s low-fare leader and we will defend that position,” he said via e-mail. “We are firm believers in healthy competition, which benefits consumers – as it should. We look forward to introducing guests at Gateway to our low fares and signature brand of friendly, caring service.”
He said “no other Canadian carrier operating from Gateway” can compete with WestJet’s service.
Palmer would not say whether the new service at Mesa will affect its schedule at Sky Harbor, where it offers flights to eight destinations including year-round service to Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. Year to date through September, WestJet has carried nearly 291,000 passengers into and out of Sky Harbor. Its passenger counts are highest from January through April, when Canadians flee winter for Arizona’s mild weather. Palmer said the airline monitors supply and demand on all routes and makes “adjustments accordingly.”
No other carriers serve both airports. Frontier Airlines tried it in late 2012 when it added daily flights to Denver from Mesa in addition to its service at Sky Harbor but the flights lasted less than a year. Spirit Airlines launched its first Arizona flights from Gateway in late 2012 but moved the flights to Sky Harbor a year later because it is the metro Phoenix airport “our customers know best,” a spokeswoman said at the time. Allegiant is the only carrier offering commercial flights at the Mesa airport, with non-stop service to more than three dozen destinations.
WestJet told Sky Harbor about its Mesa plans in advance and said it has no plans to reduce flights from Sky Harbor, according to Sky Harbor spokeswoman Deborah Ostreicher.
Canada is Sky Harbor’s biggest international destination. In addition to WestJet, non-stop service to Canada is offered by Air Canada and American Airlines.