Today, WestJet announced that they have ordered 10 Boeing 787-900 Dreamliners, which expands the reach of their fleet but quite a bit. It is pure speculation at this point but it seems very likely that WestJet will likely expand their footprint internationally.
If you don’t know the story of how WestJet started, they very much copied what SouthWest Airlines did in that they focused on point to point flights using Boeing 737s only. The reason for this was to reduce overhead costs as you only had to have pilots trained on one type of aircraft, spare parts for one type of aircraft, mechanics with expertise on only one type of aircraft, etc. Since those early days, WestJet has expanded their fleet to include widebody 767s and Bombardier Q400’s and have added routes to the US, Carribean and Europe.
Currently, WestJet flies to 3 destinations in Europe (Dublin, Glasgow, and London Gatwick) with their 737s from the East Coast of Canada (St. John’s and Halifax) due to their limited reach. In 2016, WestJet used their 767s to fly to London Gatwick from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto with some HUGE problems, but I guess those problems weren’t enough to dissuade them from further expansion.
The new 787-900s have an effective range of 14,000 kilometers, which basically puts almost every part of the globe within reach. Below is a map that details the reach with the dark blue shaded areas the 14,000 radius from WestJet’s headquarters, Calgary.
As you can see, this is a potential game changer for WestJet and provides some hope for Canadians that don’t like to fly Air Canada internationally.
If only they had a proper loyalty program …
WestJet has ordered ten 787-9s to be delivered between Q1 2019 and Q4 2021 with an option for an additional 10 planes to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.