Sunwing’s decision to include Ottawa among its new direct flights to Grand Bahama is a sign of confidence in the national capital’s market, airport officials say.
Ottawa International Airport negotiations typically proceed with the officials showing market demand for a particular destination.
The data was not available in this case because this was a new route, said Michael Crockatt, the airport’s vice-president of business development and marketing.
“This one [happened] because Sunwing saw the opportunity here to put together something more than just Ottawa,” Mr. Crockatt said.
Weekly service will be available in Ottawa as well as Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax and Edmonton starting Jan. 16 and continuing through the winter. Year-round weekly service will also be implemented in Toronto.
Grand Bahama is one of a growing list of sun destinations with direct flights to and from Ottawa. Other destinations include spots in Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and Florida, among other locations.
These flights are from a mix of carriers, Mr. Crockatt said, including Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, Sunwing and CanJet.
While the airport always has its eye out for more direct flight opportunities, growth in Ottawa’s passenger flights has been off the pace this year compared to 2012.
Amid flat passenger growth year-over-year in July, the airport’s year-to-date numbers of 2.69 million passengers is three per cent less than that of last year.
“Right now it’s preparing to make sure we’re watching the trends and maintaining those relationships with the airlines,” Mr. Crockatt said. “When the growth is back and strong, we can jump on together with the airlines.”
One possible factor in the slowing passenger growth could be Canadian federal government restrictions on travel amid budgetary concerns, Mr. Crockatt said.
He added the numbers are usually more an indication of general economic confidence among passengers and, in the case of business travel, the entities funding the plane tickets.