'Huge for Manitoba': New direct flight to Los Angeles from Winnipeg

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson reacted to WestJet's announcement on Wednesday to connect Winnipeg and Los Angeles through direct flights. Stefanson says traffic from Los Angeles will help increase tourism as well as business for the Manitoba film industry. Manitoba currently offers tax incentives for visiting film productions and brought in roughly $365 million in 2021.

Winnipeggers itching to go to Hollywood are going to have an easier time making the trip by air.

WestJet is set to offer three direct flights a week year-round from Winnipeg’s airport to Los Angeles.

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“This is huge for Manitoba,” says Premier Heather Stefanson. “What WestJet is announcing today is absolutely incredible for our economy here in Manitoba, for tourism, for so many different industries here in Manitoba.”

According to Stefanson, a direct route from Winnipeg to L.A. will bolster Manitoba’s thriving film industry, which brought in $365 million to the province’s economy last year, despite setbacks from the pandemic.

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This announcement comes after the province spent almost $5 million in an effort to increase direct flights between Winnipeg and other major international locations last week. Those funds came from the province’s $50-million Pandemic Long-Term Recovery Fund.

Interim CEO for Manitoba Film and Music, Rod Bruinooge, anticipates the route will offer dramatic growth for the industry.

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“When I was involved in the industry 20 years ago, we would get about $30 million in film business a year. This past year, we’re into a third of a billion, which is a dramatic growth,” he says. “Managing that growth is always challenging, but we’re seeing huge announcements happening in the next number of months — this one is the start of it.

“By having a direct route to Manitoba, film productions that are very large-scale will consider coming here.”

The first direct flight to L.A. will take off on Halloween.

— with files from Global News’ Sam Thompson

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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