Canadian airline WestJet has announced it will launch a new route this November between its hub at Calgary and Seattle in the United States. The route will initially run four times per week using a WestJet Encore Q400 turboprop and then expand to twice-daily service from May. The route will connect an important WestJet hub with the hub of its main US partner, Delta Air Lines, allowing for greater connecting opportunities.
WestJet is coming to Seattle
Canadian carrier WestJet has announced it will launch a new flight from Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The route will launch on November 4th, 2021, with four services per week.
From December 20th, 2021, WestJet will upgrade the route to six weekly services. From March 28th, 2022, the route moves to daily services, and finally, on May 19th, the route will see twice-daily services.
WestJet will use a Q400 turboprop on the route. The planes are outfitted in an all-economy configuration with 78 seats in total. There are 10 “premium” seats which are the airline’s extra-legroom economy seats toward the front of the aircraft.
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The airlines serving the route
While this is WestJet’s first entrance on the route, it will not have a monopoly on services between the two cities. Alaska Airlines is expected to resume services between its largest hub in Seattle and Calgary from December with a once-daily Q400 flight. By the summer, Alaska expects to get up to three daily Q400 flights between Seattle and Calgary, though that may change depending on the overall travel environment.
Delta Air Lines previously used to serve the route. However, the airline does not currently have flights scheduled until April 2022, when it plots twice-daily Embraer E175 flights.
Both airlines suspended the route as travel restrictions barred Americans from visiting Canada. However, with Canada’s border restrictions easing from August 9th for fully vaccinated Americans, those plans may change if strong demand materializes for flights across the border.
Delta Air Lines has a hub in Seattle, while WestJet has a hub in Calgary. The two airlines are expected to file to codeshare on the route, and both airlines will detail connectivity options in the coming weeks and months as they formalize their partnership plans.
WestJet and Delta previously sought a joint venture for transborder flights. However, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) denied full approval unless the airlines gave up slots at LaGuardia. Neither carrier wanted to do that, and, in a scathing rebuke, the carriers decided to drop their plans for a joint venture.
Recently, the CEO of WestJet, Ed Sims, made comments that made it seem like the two carriers would be resubmitting their application for a joint venture. Delta and WestJet are certainly planning to partner closely, but without the joint venture, there are limitations to this partnership.
Next summer, Delta and WestJet will, together, offer four daily flights between Seattle and Calgary. Customers will benefit from connections in both cities to secondary points in the Pacific Northwest, California, or other points in the Western United States not directly served by WestJet. Meanwhile, a connection in Calgary can unlock access to points across Canada.
The signs point toward Delta and WestJet looking to expand with a joint venture. Both airlines are bringing back transborder services and announcing new flights to enhance connectivity from core Delta and WestJet airports.
Are you going to fly WestJet from Seattle to Calgary? What are your thoughts on this route? Let us know in the comments!