I was wondering if its possible for WS to add SMF & SJC out of YYC with WS Encore? Are the Q400's range good for those routes? It could add connecting pax to WS Europe and Eastern Canada network.
This is a really interesting question you raise.
I plugged what you suggested into GCMaphttp://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=yyc-smf-yy ... =nm&SU=mph
One of the gaps in WestJet's network is a 75-100 seat airplane (jet) that can do 800-1500 nm.
My guess is both those markets would be appealing to them from either YVR or YYC, as they continue to grow their widebody network and hope to tap into connecting traffic between the USA and Europe, not to mention offer more connecting possibilities for Canadian passengers. I also threw in the YVR - Whitehorse route on the map just for grins, as it is a market WS vacated a year or two ago, as they are routing YXY traffic through YYC instead. I suspect if WestJet had a smaller aircraft with the required range, they would be back in the YVR YXY market.
The WestJet Encore Q400s can reliably do about a 600 nm route, ~2.5 hours flying time. Possible existing solutions include the Embraer 170/175/190/195 or the various E2 series, or the CRJ1000, likely flown under the WestJet Encore banner.
The one wildcard that I think could happen is whenever the WestJet - Delta joint venture is made official (hopefully within a few months), could WestJet (and Delta) engage Delta Connection to do a certain amount of transborder flying on their behalf? It wouldn't be much, perhaps five airplanes worth of work, but would it be more cost effective on a trial basis, before perhaps bringing it in-house under WesJet Encore.
Several posters in this thread have noted this gap in the WestJet fleet. It will be interesting to see what they do to try and fill it.