Direct flights between Toronto and Canada’s Tournament Capital have returned for a second summer as Air Canada Rouge resumed non-stop flights between the two cities on Thursday.
This year, however, passengers have fewer opportunities to take advantage of the flights as the airline has scaled back the seasonal service.
Last year, the there were three flights per week between June and September. This year, there will be one flight per week until the end of August.
This year, the weekly flight will depart for Toronto shortly after noon on Thursdays.
Kamloops Airport managing director Ed Ratuski said he is hoping locals take advantage of the flight in order for it to be successful.
“The loads are looking promising for that flight, but we continually want to encourage the local community to search out that flight for their travel plans out east this summer,” Ratuski said.
He said discussions with Air Canada to date indicate sales are up for the Kamloops to Toronto flight compared to last year at this time.
In 2018, non-stop flights to Toronto took off on Tuesdays, Thursdays.
Ratuski said the Thursday flight returned because it was the best-performing of the three.
Flights must be booked at more than 80 per cent occupancy to be considered successful.
Ratuski said the other two flights saw a large portion of travellers passing through Kamloops, taking advantage of low-cost fares and continuing to Vancouver.
“They’re operating Rouge services into Vancouver as well, so when they’re justifying their route rationalizations, that’s what they’d look at — are we taking from one to feed another?” Ratuski explained.
The start date for this year’s Toronto to Kamloops flight — July 4 —was delayed by two weeks as Air Canada re-arranged its fleet following the grounding of its Boeing Max 8 aircraft in March.
The planes were grounded in Canada, the U.S. and other countries following two 737 Max 8 crashes — in Indonesia last October and in Ethiopia in March — that killed 346 people.
Boeing, which makes the planes, agreed this week to create a $100-million fund for family members of those killed.
Because the Max 8 planes remain out of service, Ratuski said, some of the Airbus A319s from the Rouge fleet were pulled to fill in for the grounded planes.
Air Canada uses an A319 for its Kamloops to Toronto route.