WestJet plans to introduce a new direct flight from Regina to Minneapolis beginning in 2024.
WestJet announced the new flight at the Canadian Western Agribition, held at the Viterra International Trade Centre, on Monday morning alongside the Saskatchewan government and the Regina Airport Authority.
WestJet says the new service will operate daily and year round beginning on April 28, with flights taking off from Regina every morning at 8:15 a.m, and return flights departing Minneapolis at 1:15 p.m.
The news comes after WestJet shared plans to introduce service directly from Saskatoon to Minneapolis earlier this year.
This will be the first time since 2016 that service to Minneapolis will be available, after Delta Airlines suspended its daily routes to Minneapolis.
WestJet and the government of Saskatchewan said the changes are part of an effort to increase and support Regina’s tourism and trade relations.
“The United States is Saskatchewan’s largest trading partner and export market,” said Jared Mikoch-Gerke, director of alliances and airport affairs for Westjet.
Mikoch-Gerke said that exports to the U.S reached “an all time high of 29.3 billion dollars in 2022.”
“Having direct air access to the United States year-round allows for new investment opportunities and expanded trade relationships,” he said.
Jeremy Harrison, minister of Trade and Export Development, echoed these statements, and said the changes will have positive impacts on local communities all across the province.
“It means jobs and it means opportunity for people here in Saskatchewan,” he said. “From the business communities perspective, from tourism, from event hosting like here at Agribition this all makes a really really significant difference for the city.”
Harrison said the province will spend $500,000 for the minimum revenue guarantee to the Regina Airport Authority.
Earlier this year, the province revealed it will provide a minimum revenue guarantee of up to $2.2 million to the Saskatoon Airport Authority for the direct flight from Saskatoon to Minneapolis.
“Which is not an unusual arrangement with airport authorities across North America,” he said.
President and CEO of the Regina Airport Authority James Bogusz said the airport authority has been working on reintroducing service since 2018. He says moving forward, he hopes that more service can be introduced.
“We’ve ensured that when WestJet lands their planes at our airport they have a good chance at making profitability, which then means when they evaluate the routes for long-term performance we are in a much better position to try to encourage more service,” he said.