On April 29, 2019, WS1 took off from Calgary and landed the next morning at London’s Gatwick Airport. For WestJet, this wasn’t just any ordinary flight. Although WestJet has flown to London for a few years now, this was the first transatlantic WestJet flight on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
WestJet and London
WestJet has previously operated transatlantic routes. In the past, as a low-cost carrier, WestJet offered service in two-classes on Boeing 767 aircraft. These 767s previously flew for Qantas before WestJet took them over. This was a huge step for WestJet and the airline put their widebodies on their route to London’s Gatwick airport.
Seating up to 262 passengers, these 767s were relatively stuffed and lacked many traditional features of a full-service aircraft. WestJet’s 767s lack seatback screens and instead have a tablet holder. There is no business class, only Economy and Premium, which really is just economy with a few extra perks and legroom.
On the bright side, the 767 is a comfortable aircraft for passengers. WestJet had a 2-2-2 configuration in Premium and a 2-3-2 configuration in Economy.
WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner
We’ve tracked developments leading up to WestJet’s first transatlantic flight with a 787. Now that the day has come, it seems like WestJet really has shed much of their low-cost model in favor of a traditional full-service approach. No doubt, WestJet is aiming to compete against the larger and well-known Air Canada.
For WestJet, operating a newer, fuel-efficient aircraft with an upgraded hard product will easily make them a force for Air Canada to reckon with. Air Canada really didn’t have any other full-service competition. Canada has a relatively large low-cost market with players like Air Transat and Sunwing. Air Canada ventured into the low-cost market with Air Canada Rouge.
WestJet’s 787s will go head-to-head with Air Canada’s product on key transatlantic routes- including to London. WestJet will use the 787 to fly to Dublin, Paris, and London from their hub in Calgary. In addition, the 787 will operate flights between Toronto and Calgary. However, Air Canada flies to Heathrow while WestJet flies to Gatwick.
For WestJet, the first transatlantic 787 flight was a major success. According to their news release, the flight was completely sold out. WestJet’s 787 represent an increase in capacity from 262 passengers on the 767 to 320 on the 787.
Speaking on the launch of 787 transatlantic service, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer, Arved von zur Muehlen, said the following:
“The London market has quickly become an important one for us with service from six cities across Canada. It is no accident that the first transatlantic flight on the Dreamliner is to our largest international market, from our largest hub and home in Calgary.”
-Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer
We’re glad to see WestJet’s commence 787 transatlantic service and look forward to future advancements WestJet makes with their fleet and route network. This is a major step forward and places WestJet at the standard of a full-service carrier. Now, WestJet will have to maintain principled growth and remain profitable in a time when many airlines have undergone rapid expansion and subsequent failure.
Will you fly on WestJet’s 787 Dreamliner? Where would you like to see WestJet fly their 787s to? Let us know in the comments!