The first three of WestJet’s 10 new long-distance Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will offer direct international flights between Calgary and Europe, the company announced Wednesday.
It marks the official move to being a full-service airline — a far cry from its beginnings as a low-cost domestic airline — but is only the first step in its international expansion ambitions, which could include flights to Asia and Latin America.
The new planes mean direct flights between Calgary, Dublin and Paris. One of the new planes will also fly the already established Calgary to London, England, route.
WestJet also hopes the routes will bring up to 185,000 visitors to the Calgary area each year, starting in April 2019 when the international flights are scheduled to start.
“Alberta’s connectivity to the rest of the world is vital for our economy,” Ed Sims, WestJet president and CEO, said in a news release.
Watch the video below, published when WestJet unveiled the new planes.
“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 company said the three new routes will support 650 full-time jobs and $100 million in economic output.
More Dreamliners on order
The Dreamliners have a range of 14,000 kilometres and are said to be as much as 20 per cent more fuel efficient than WestJet’s current fleet of 767s.
WestJet has ordered a total of 10 of the planes, with the first arriving in Calgary in early 2019 and the other two by April, according to the airline. The hubs for those additional planes has not been announced.
The company also has options for an additional 10 Dreamliners to arrive between 2020 and 2024.
Each plane will carry 320 guests in business, premium and economy-class sections.
The newly revealed business class features 16 private pods with lie-flat seats.