WestJet concludes repatriation flight program with Global Affairs Canada
July 20, 2020
4 min read
WestJet today is signifying the conclusion of its repatriation flight program in collaboration with the Government of Canada, following the airline's final flight from Port of Spain (POS), Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto (YYZ), Canada on Friday, July 17. Listen to Cabin Crew Manager Colleen Schindler's message to 171 guests on flight 3903 upon their arrival into Canadian airspace here.
Since April 4, WestJet operated 28 flights to 14 destinations to bring 4,073 Canadians home from the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Grand Cayman, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.
"By working together with our Government of Canada partners, we have returned more than 4,000 citizens to Canadian soil," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. "Our commitment to the Prime Minister was to bring as many Canadians home as possible; and following 28 missions, we are grateful for the volunteer contributions of more than 200 WestJetters and the collaboration from our airport and government partners. These individuals came together and demonstrated their Canadian spirit to ensure the safe return of our country's citizens."
Since the airline's inaugural repatriation flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 4, it flew approximately 122,00 miles, the equivalent to five trips around the world, to carry Canadians home. The airline made stops in one new continent (South America), five new countries (El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti) and 10 destinations previously served by WestJet.
"Over the last few months, Canada undertook its largest and most complex ever consular operation in peace time to help Canadians return home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This operation could not have been a success without the extraordinary support of airlines and their dedicated employees who helped us bring more than 50,000 Canadians home. I extend our sincere gratitude to WestJet for their contribution in making these repatriations possible during this unprecedented health crisis," said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Across 104 days, it took hundreds of WestJetters to organize the flights and operating crews, most of whom volunteered for the missions. At each destination airport partners ensured all guests were health screened and temperature checked prior to boarding. In the end, flight crews assisted guests of all ages, safely returned 75 pets and provided more than 400 guests in wheelchairs with assistance during their journey home.
The 28 flights were a collaboration between WestJet and the Government of Canada and were part of WestJet's efforts to bring Canadian citizens home following the suspension of the airline's international service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WestJet's repatriation flights by the numbers
122,146 miles flown (round-trip), the equivalent of five trips around the world*
More than 400 guests in wheelchairs assisted
286 hours of flying time (approximately 12 straight days of flight)*
200+ volunteer WestJetters*
103 days of organization and missions
75 pets in cabin
9 WestJet destinations (Cuba, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Belize, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago)
5 new countries (El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti)
2 different aircraft (Boeing 737-800, 737-700)
1 new continent (South America)
These numbers are approximates based on schedules
Photo highlights and infographic from WestJet's 28 flights are available for download here.