WestJet To Base Its Dreamliner In Calgary

WestJet has announced that it will be basing the first of its three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft at Calgary International Airport YYC. The airline expects to launch its three international routes from the airport with the new aircraft. The following routes from Calgary will be commencing in 2019:

  • Paris June 1, 2019
  • Dublin May 17, 2019
  • London Gatwick April 28, 2019

In an interview with the Aviation Tribune WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims stated:

“Alberta’s connectivity to the rest of the world is vital for our economy. WestJet is investing in Alberta to bring further economic growth, boost tourism to the province, and to further position our city as an international aviation hub. We are excited to bring Albertans to the world and the world to Alberta.”

 The news was welcomed by the premier of Alberta The Honourable Rachel Notley who said:

“Alberta is the best place to invest and do business — that’s why WestJet has made our province home. We are proud they are continuing to expand here – helping local businesses reach new markets, bringing new visitors to our world-class tourist destinations, and creating hundreds of new jobs so Albertans can earn a good living for themselves and their families.”

More 787-9 Dreamliners On Order

WestJet has 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on order; the airline expects to receive the first planes in 2019 and will operate them on domestic routes for crew training and certification, before commencing its international routes. If WestJet’ foray into the transatlantic market is successful, the airline has an option on a further 10 aircraft to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

Aircraft Configuration

The new aircraft will operate in a 3-class configuration and will carry a total of 320 passengers. The setup will feature an economy cabin in a 3-3-3 configuration; next will come a premium economy cabin in a 2-3-2 configuration. Finally, the aircraft will be equipped with 16 business class pods featuring lie-flat seats. The new business class is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Economic Boost

The three routes are expected to provide a significant boost to the economy of Alberta, with a total contribution of $100 million to economic output, and the support of 650 full-time jobs in the province. In the long term, the three flights are expected to bring 183,000 people a year to Calgary, which will further boost the province’s output.

Final Thoughts

This announcement will add even more pressure on the main carriers operating transatlantic routes. Only recently Norwegian overtook BA as the largest non-US transatlantic carrier. With WestJet stepping into the mix, the next few years should be turbulent as more and more low-cost carriers enter the market and start taking a bite out of the big player’s profits.