EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The "international" is becoming more prominent at Atlantic City International Airport.
Canada-based WestJet announced Wednesday that it will start seasonal service between Atlantic City International and Toronto this fall.
From Oct. 22 through May, WestJet flights will depart Toronto for Atlantic City International at 7 p.m., with return flights leaving the airport here at 9:15 p.m. Introductory fares start at $79.
Sharon Gordon, spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the airport, said the SJTA and WestJet have discussed service out of Atlantic City International for the past several years as part of a move to increase its international destinations, especially to areas featuring many entertainment and tourism opportunities.
As for travelers heading north, WestJet can take travelers from Toronto to Canadian cities that include Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Travelers can also get to some lesser-known destinations, such as:
- Thunder Bay, Ontario, which WestJet's Web site states is "home to the Sleeping Giant, a mountain that looks just like a giant sleeping on his back."
- Kelowna, British Columbia, from which the adventuresome can take a trip to Lake Okanagan to search for Ogopogo, Canada's version of the Loch Ness monster.
Gordon said it is not uncommon for low-fare airlines to start international service with seasonal flights.
WestJet eventually will review advance bookings for the Atlantic City-Toronto flights to determine if the service should run year-round, she said. She said SJTA is confident that, with the backing of the region's gaming and non-gaming entities, the service will become year-round.
A look at WestJet's route map on its Web site shows that many of its international flights are seasonal.
Gordon said WestJet's service is one reason that SJTA is fast-tracking plans to build new quarters for processing international passengers at the airport terminal.
International travelers currently go through customs in a screened off section of the terminal's baggage-handling center.
WestJet included the Atlantic City-Toronto service as part of announcement outlining what it calls its largest-ever seasonal non-stop flight schedule.
The new schedule features what WestJet said was a record eight new international destinations and three additional destinations in the United States for the winter of 2009-2010. WestJet said it will operate service to 66 cities in more than 10 countries by late fall, as compared to 51 cities in eight countries a year ago.
"This is another first for WestJet," said Chris Avery, the airline's vice president for revenue and finance. "We have never announced as many destinations at one time, which demonstrates that we continue to deliver on our strategic plan by expanding our network and providing our world-class guest experience each and every day. We remain confident that, in spite of the current economic conditions, WestJet's unsurpassed value and our status as Canada's preferred airline will see old friends and new guests alike flying with us this winter."
Atlantic City International, bolstered by a coalition of gaming and non-gaming businesses and organizations, has added other new service this year.
Spirit Airlines, for years the airport's only major air carrier, started service to Boston in May.
AirTran Airways started service to Atlanta last month. Atlanta's airport is an important hub that gives travelers greater access to domestic and international flights.
The SJTA said it hopes to have service to Chicago, another key hub airport, later this year.
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