On Thursday, EDW President & CEO Dayna Spiring joined John Weatherill, WestJet Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer; Premier Heather Stefanson, Province of Manitoba; Mayor Scott Gillingham, City of Winnipeg; Nick Hays, President & CEO, Winnipeg Airports Authority, and Gerry Price, Chairman & CEO of Price Industries, to announce that starting this fall, Manitoba’s largest carrier, WestJet, will be taking to the skies five times per week with non-stop service to Atlanta, Georgia.
This announcement, held at Price Industries’ home office on Raleigh Ave in Winnipeg, is the second feather in our cap for improved connectivity, and follows WestJet’s August 2022 launch of direct service to LAX.
“Non-stop service to Atlanta is a huge win for our city -- the second new direct flight we’ve launched in the past year – and only the second new route added out of YWG since 2016. We’re working collaboratively to grow our economy and help local businesses succeed, and we know that economic development needs connectivity,” said Spiring.
Metro Atlanta is home to more than 150,000 businesses, including massive global company headquarters, 17 of which are Fortune 500 corporations and seven of which are Fortune 100.
“Many of our city’s large employers including Price Industries, Ceridian, NFI and Winpak, among others, have operations in Atlanta. If you’re an employer whose staff members travel frequently to Atlanta-based locations, or almost anywhere in the southern U.S., this flight is a game-changer,” said Spiring.
Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport and the largest hub for WestJet’s key partner, Delta Airlines. There are more than 2,700 arrivals and departures from ATL daily, and the airport connects travellers to more than 200 destinations in Canada, U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. And now Winnipeg will be part of the mix.
“The sky’s the limit for the level of economic and cultural exchange we’ll enjoy as a result of this route. We know that business opportunities abound in agribusiness, advanced manufacturing and film, and that it’s a huge boon for tourism. Atlanta is a creative hub with music festivals, art exhibitions, sports tournaments and more, so cultural exchange will be another great natural benefit…”
Through the Economic Development Board Secretariat, the Manitoba government committed $5 million to support the Winnipeg Airports Authority and airlines launching new routes to connect Winnipeg to international markets. The funding arrangement is similar to the support provided last year for the direct route between Winnipeg and Los Angeles, designed to connect Manitoba’s booming film industry with Hollywood.
The Atlanta route’s customs clearance process occurs in Winnipeg, which means increased convenience for travellers when they land in the U.S. as domestic passengers. And, depending on a passenger’s final destination, a direct flight to a highly efficient hub like ATL will address long, unproductive layovers, and potentially eliminating additional required stops and potential missed connections.
According to Price, many U.S. clients interested in travelling to Winnipeg to leverage the world-leading HVAC company’s innovative research centre struggled to allocate the necessary time.
“We often welcome engineers, architects, builders and contractors to our facility, and many coming from the U.S. would have to dedicate two or three full days for the trip,” said Price. “Flight connections are just not convenient, and it’s difficult for business leaders to take up to three days away from their operations. This is a delightful announcement for Price, for our employees, for Manitoba residents who travel south for winter getways, and for me personally. I have flown to Atlanta more than 600 times, so today’s announcement is just excellent news from my perspective.”
Connectivity is important to positioning Winnipeg for greater economic capacity and to expanding our worldview through increased travel possibilities.
“I am confident this flight will be a catalyst for significant economic opportunities and help us build stronger connections with our friends in the southern United States. We look forward to making the most of this development, and most of all, we look forward to welcoming visitors to our vibrant and dynamic city.”