Glasgow Airport has further strengthened its long haul connectivity with North America after Canadian airline WestJet launched its daily, direct service to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
It is the first time the airline has served an airport in the UK and it is only its second transatlantic service following the launch in 2014 of direct flights to Dublin.
A host of dignitaries including the Premier of Nova Scotia, the Canadian High Commissioner to the UK and the Major of Halifax were on-hand at Glasgow Airport to wave off the inaugural flight.
The busy Atlantic seaport of Halifax is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia which has strong historic and cultural links with Scotland. In recognition of the close ties, WestJet has numbered the Glasgow flight WS 30 in honour of St Andrew’s Day which falls on 30 November. It has also commissioned a WestJet tartan which will adorn the tail of its Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 aircraft that will operate on the route.
Canada is Glasgow’s third largest international market with 37,000 trips made each year by Canadian visitors who generate £12 million for the city’s economy. The route is also expected to prove extremely popular with Scottish passengers.
The non-stop flight, which has a journey time of five hours 15 minutes, will fly daily until 24 October 2015. Passengers will be able to access connections to Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and 16 other cities in WestJet’s Canadian network.
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “To be able to welcome an airline such as WestJet is fantastic news for the airport and our customers.
We have always been proud of our long haul connectivity and WestJet, which has an extensive route network throughout North America, will play an important role in strengthening the already close relationship between Scotland and Canada.
“It is important for Glasgow’s and Scotland’s tourism industry that we have direct links such as this. Not only will it bring tens of thousands of visitors to our shores, it will provide Scottish passengers with an opportunity to visit a beautiful part of the world with which we share such strong cultural and historical ties.”
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “WestJet’s new Halifax route is a major boost for Glasgow, providing the perfect opportunity to strengthen existing cultural and business links between both cities.
There will undoubtedly be strong demand for this service, which has huge potential to deliver significant inbound leisure tourism.
“Glasgow City Marketing Bureau has a great relationship with WestJet and Halifax Stanfield International Airport and we will be working closely with the airline to launch a joint digital marketing campaign in Halifax and Toronto next week aimed at highlighting the ease of access to Glasgow for visitors from the eastern seaboard.
“Glasgow is constantly striving to enhance its air links and connect the city to the global marketplace.
We’re looking forward to working with WestJet to ensure the success of this route.”
Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay, said: “This excellent new service will boost tourism and business in Scotland and Canada, and I’m delighted to see the inaugural flight take off this morning.
“Our two countries have close cultural and historic ties and this new link between Glasgow and Halifax, Nova Scotia will help strengthen these bonds. I have no doubt it will prove popular with travellers on both sides of the Atlantic.
“With the latest EY Attractiveness Survey showing that Scotland continues to be the most successful part of the UK outside London in attracting foreign direct investment, new connections like this greatly help Scotland punch above our weight in an increasingly competitive global market. Of course, we could help attract more direct routes like these by cutting rates of Air Passenger Duty, and I once again call on the UK Government to transfer the powers to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible.”
Mike Cantlay OBE, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “Canada and Nova Scotia in particular represent an exciting diaspora stronghold and a fantastic opportunity for Scottish tourism.
Some 4.7 million Canadians have Scottish ancestry, with 24% wanting to visit Scotland in search of those roots. The new WestJet route from Halifax to Glasgow presents a great platform for the tourism industry in Scotland to tap into an ancestral market worth up to £450 million over the next five years.
“Working closely with WestJet, GCMB and the airports of Halifax and Glasgow, we are delighted to help launch this service, which will support the delivery of a strong legacy from last year’s Homecoming, Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup celebrations. These events, alongside the enduring appeal of Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ have generated huge interest among Canadian travellers, and with the reach of WestJet’s connecting network, we look forward to welcoming even more visitors from Halifax and beyond.”
Flights are on sale through www.westjet.com or local travel agents. Details of WestJet’s new, non-stop service between Glasgow and Halifax.