Is A Sleepy Canada Airport Slowly Becoming An International Hub?

There’s a lot of Italian blood flowing through my family.  I’m sure that’s pretty shocking considering my last name.  Even so, some of those Italian roots left the US before I was born and relocated to a sleepy town in Canada called Fall River.  Located in Nova Scotia, it’s about 30 minutes North of Halifax.

However, it’s only 10 minutes from Halifax International Airport (YHZ).  Some of my family works at the airport and we’ve flown into and out of it at least once a year for the past 10 years.  I’ve always regarded it as something of a sleepy airport.  It’s a clean, modern terminal with all the amenities you’d expect.  There’s still only a handful of flights to the US.  To my knowledge, American Airlines isn’t even currently serving YHZ.

For a while now, there has been international service to London from Halifax. However, I never really contemplated how much other international (non-US) service they have.

I saw an announcement last night about new service between Halifax and Paris, France.

The fact that this new service is operated by WestJet got me thinking.  I decided to dig in and see how much existing WestJet service could lead to “connecting” traffic in Halifax. Halifax  is definitely not a connecting airport now.  It’s virtually all O&D (short for Origin/Destination).  The first thing I learned when I did some poking around is that Halifax has a bit more international service than I thought:

  • London (year-round)
  • St. Pierre (year-round)
  • Dublin-Paris (summer)
  • Frankfurt (summer)
  • Reykjavik (summer)
  • Glasgow (summer)

The summer service isn’t surprising.  Halifax and the surrounding area is absolutely beautiful during summer.  WestJet operates service from the following cities to Halifax:

  • Calgary
  • Cancun
  • Deer Lake
  • Edmonton
  • Gander
  • Hamilton
  • Montreal
  • Orlando
  • Ottawa
  • St. John’s
  • Sydney, NS
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

The service to Paris is schedule to be flown by a Boeing 737 MAX (I got a peek inside the delivery flight of one of the very first 737 MAX aircraft).  This is a brand new variant of the 737 workhorse that has the sort of fuel economy and range to make service possible where a wide-body like a 767 used to be the answer.  In certain cases, a 757 could make the run as well.  In both cases, that’s a lot more plane than a 737.  That means you need to sell more seats or sell at a higher price to make the flight economical.  The 737 MAX changes that.

Halifax is not a large market.   WestJet is something of a low-cost carrier (heck, they’re planning a low-cost carrier inside their low-cost carrier) so I’m expecting quite a few seats on their 737 MAX aircraft.  For comparison, Norwegian flies the MAX at 189 seats.

I Just Wonder

After poking around a bit on the WestJet I was quickly able to find connecting itineraries:

Round-trip, that flight can be found for about 550 CAD (or about 440 USD).  That’s not bad.  It’s not Norwegian/WOW/IcelandAir $99 one-way cheap.  But, Canadians aren’t really used to drastically low prices for flights to Europe.

Now, one new destination does not make a “hub” out of Halifax.  But, the city is geographically well-located to serve Europe.  Fog and other weather conditions can make it a bit less reliable at times.  I imagine this somewhat sleepy airport is cheaper to operate from than Toronto or Montreal.  And, it’s certainly easier to navigate.  The customs facility may need to expand if this trend grows.

Halifax is still one of the best kept secrets in North America.  It’s such a beautiful area.  The area has grown up quite a bit in the 40 years I’ve been visiting.  And yet, it still maintains a quiet charm.  Now, the airport is growing up just a bit more.

The post Is A Sleepy Canada Airport Slowly Becoming An International Hub? was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. I knew there was a reason I gravitated to your website: Having lived in both St. John’s. NF and Halfiax during the late 70s and most of the 80s ( @ MUN and then set up and ran the MSVU DUET program) before heading to the US and DC metro area, I frequented YHZ and have great memories of escapes to Oz (Austrl for unitiated) as well as to Europe from there. Never remembered it as sleepy but compared to ATL or ORD, it is. Very interesting about the international connections now available, and making me consider it a stopping point where I can connect with old friends before jumping ‘cross the pond. PS, love the travel get togethers you hold in the DC metro area and get a LOT of great advice!

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