The Regina Airport Authority and WestJet made a significant announcement on Monday morning, unveiling a year-round daily flight connecting Regina and Minneapolis.
Getting a connection hub in the United States has been a priority for James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina Airport Authority. Although passenger volumes are currently at 90 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels, the lack of a daily, non-stop flight to the U.S. was a major issue for the RAA.
“This has been the No. 1 thing that I’ve been asked, as the CEO, to try to resolve,” said Bogusz as the media event on Monday. “Ironically, it’s not the airport that resolves these issues, it’s the airline, and I want to publicly thank WestJet for taking the opportunity to see the future of Regina’s economy and jump on board by bringing in this amazing service.”
The daily 78-seat service to Minneapolis begins on April 28, 2024. It will also allow travellers to connect to 73 destinations in the U.S. through a partnership with Delta Airlines.
The flight will depart Regina at 8:15 a.m. and will land in Minneapolis at 11;16 a.m. The return flight will depart Minneapolis at 1:15 p.m. at 2:28 p.m.
The new fight will have a considerable impact on Regina’s economy.
“This flight alone will immediately build over $5 million of GDP output. Imagine if you’re in the hotel business. Imagine if you have a tourism product that you’re selling to others. Imagine that you’re coming to an amazing event like Agribition. This provides the ability to access our city in a way that makes it convenient,” said Bogusz.
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech was in Regina on Oct. 11 for a roundtable discussion with community business leaders. The need for a daily, non-stop flight to the U.S. was a primary topic at that meeting.
“In October, many of you in this room joined our CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, for a business and community roundtable where we heard about the importance of airline investment and what it means to your community. You asked for more. We listened, we heard you and now we’re delivering,” said Jared Mikoch-Gerke, Director, Alliances & Airport Affairs for WestJet.
“It’s obviously critical for the economic benefits of this city and this region to be able to have something as a daily, year-round service, and we’re really happy to be the only airline that’s finally able to provide that,” Mikoch-Gerke added.
Tony Playter, CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, said the new flight will have a positive economic impact on Regina and southern Saskatchewan with hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and those in the tourism industry benefiting.
“There’s the opportunity for a $5-million spurn with the money coming in from passengers, and that’s going to benefit not only our hotels and our tourism but also our retail and our restaurants,” said Playter. “That’s a real positive for our city, and it’s going to create jobs, and the economic spinoff from this flight is going to benefit us for years to come.”
Bogusz credited the combined effort of the RAA, WestJet, the City of Regina, the province of Saskatchewan and many business partners in the city for the successful bid.
Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Trade and Export Development and Minister of Immigration and Career Training, spoke to the participation in the process by the Government of Saskatchewan.
“I get the question sometimes, ‘Why is the province supporting international air routes, working with airport authorities in both Regina and Saskatoon?’ We’ve been working with them for about a year and the reason is that it means jobs and it mean opportunity for people here in Saskatchewan,” said Harrison.