The Boeing 767: An Aircraft That Changed WestJet

WestJet used to fly four Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. The airline only flew the aircraft for under five years. However, the jet fundamentally changed WestJet from a domestic Canadian airline to a true rival to the giant Air Canada. Here is a look back at the Boeing 767 in WestJet’s fleet.

WestJet Boeing 767
WestJet only flew four Boeing 767 aircraft in its history. Photo: London-Gatwick Airport

WestJet’s Boeing 767

WestJet started taking its first Boeing 767-300ER aircraft in the second half of 2015. The airline had acquired these used aircraft, most of which were over 20 years old, from Qantas, which had phased out those aircraft in favor of a younger, more fuel-efficient fleet.

The Boeing 767-300ERs had room for 262 passengers onboard. There were 24 seats in premium economy and 238 in standard economy. Premium economy was in a 2-2-2 configuration, while coach is in a 2-3-2 configuration.

At the time WestJet took the Boeing 767, it was not yet ready to fly a robust long-haul network. Instead, the airline was using the 767s on a mix of routes. However, just a few months before the first 767s arrived at WestJet, the carrier had stated it would be flying the 767-300ER from Canada to London-Gatwick. At the time, the carrier continued to call itself a low-cost carrier.

The first 767-300ER touched down in Canada on August 27th, 2015. The airline was eagerly looking forward to flights to London-Gatwick from 2016. However, initially, WestJet flew the aircraft between Toronto and Calgary, and from Alberta to Hawaii and Toronto to Jamaica.

The inaugural Boeing 767 flight

On October 22nd, 2015, the airline flew its first Boeing 767-300ER revenue commercial flight. The plane took off from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Calgary International Airport (YYC).

Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Commercial, at the time stated the following:

“Today’s inaugural flight of our first wide-body aircraft ushers in a new era in the history of WestJet. And with three more 767s due to be delivered in the months to come, we look forward to enriching the lives of our guests by offering them new destinations in Europe and elsewhere, as part of WestJet’s ever-expanding network.”

After flying first domestically for a bit, in January of 2016, the airline flew its first flight to Hawaii using its own Boeing 767-300ER jet. The aircraft initially flew from Calgary and Edmonton to Honolulu and Maui.

Flying transatlantically

Finally, in May of 2016, WestJet flew its first nonstop flights from Canada to London-Gatwick. Flights initially started from Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. This would later be followed up by flights from Winnipeg and Edmonton to London. Most initial flights operated seasonally, except for WestJet’s flights from Calgary and Toronto to the UK running year-round. While WestJet previously had flown transatlantic routes, the service to London marked the carrier’s most high-profile operations to London.

WestJet Gatwick
WestJet used the 767 to fly to London-Gatwick after several months of flying other routes. Photo: London Gatwick Airport

Moving to the Boeing 787s

After only about a year of Boeing 767 operations to London, WestJet announced that it was purchasing Boeing 787 Dreamliners. These aircraft would first come in around 2019. These aircraft, which are far more fuel-efficient, almost automatically appeared to be selected for flights to London.

In late-2018, before the first 787s even touched down in Canada, WestJet announced the aircraft would be flying out of Calgary International Airport (YYC) at first, which is WestJet’s largest hub. The initial routes included flights to London-Gatwick, but also Paris and Dublin.

WestJet 787
WestJet used the Boeing 787 to replace the 767 on routes to London. Photo: WestJet

Then, in May of 2019, WestJet announced it would be upgrading its Toronto to London route to Boeing 787-9 operations. Both flights to London would be replacing Boeing 767-300ERs. However, WestJet was not saying goodbye to the Boeing 767s. Instead, it wanted to use the aircraft for some more routes, including new flights from Toronto to Barcelona.

The Boeing 787s also fully established WestJet’s transition to a full-service carrier. While the 767s lacked a business class cabin, WestJet went all-out with a reverse herringbone lie-flat product onboard its Boeing 787s.

Saying goodbye to the Boeing 767s

It was clear that the Boeing 767s would not be flying for very long with WestJet. With only four aircraft in the fleet, with new Boeing 787s arriving and the 767s reaching an advanced age, it was only a matter of time before the 767s would head out of the fleet.

Amazon Air
WestJet’s Boeing 767s found a new life with Amazon as a freighter. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Then, the impetus for retiring the Boeing 767 came about. The global health crisis, which decimated travel demand and led Canada to take strong measures to limit international travel, meant that keeping the Boeing 767s was more cost than worthwhile during the crisis. So, the airline decided to shed the jets. However, Boeing 767 fans shouldn’t expect that these aircraft have finished flying. The 767s are now in service with Amazon Prime Air as cargo jets.

However, it does look like WestJet has closed its chapter on the Boeing 767. The aircraft should be celebrated in WestJet history as the jet that enabled WestJet to grow transatlantically with premium operations to London, which was later replaced by far better Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Do you have fond memories of the Boeing 767 with WestJet? Are you sad to see the 767s exit WestJet’s fleet? Let us know in the comments!