WestJet plans to have wide-body planes by fall 2015

CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) said Monday it aims to have its own wide-body aircraft in the sky next year, setting the stage for a possible international expansion.

CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) said Monday it aims to have its own wide-body aircraft in the sky next year, setting the stage for a possible international expansion.

The bigger planes will offer greater range than WestJet’s current fleet of Boeing 737s and allow it to compete with Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) on more routes.

The Calgary-based airline said it plans to operate four of wide-body planes initially, with their first flights going between Alberta and Hawaii during the 2015 winter season.

The carrier has been using two Boeing 757-200 planes operated by Thomas Cook for its Alberta-Hawaii winter service, but that agreement ends next spring.

“This is the natural, next-step evolution for WestJet,” said CEO Gregg Saretsky.

“It’s made possible by our low-cost business model, growing network strength, airline partnerships and our award-winning brand driven by the efforts of our more than 10,000 WestJetters from coast to coast.”

The company says it’s in the advanced stages of sourcing the aircraft.

The wide-body plan has the backing of WestJet’s pilot association and board of directors.

In addition to the 737s, WestJet’s Encore regional service flies the Bombardier Q400 turboprop.

WestJet began flying between St. John’s, N.L., and Dublin last month.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin said the move paves the way for an expansion into more overseas destinations.

“With still profitable growth available from WestJet’s existing operations, we believe some investors might have preferred a focus on the 737 and regional fleet before expanding internationally,” he wrote in a note to clients.

“However, we believe management sought to act sooner rather than later given the apparent strength in the international demand environment.

Arriving too late might have put WestJet at a sizable disadvantage to competitors that could have blanketed the most profitable routes with newer aircraft.”

As WestJet’s operations become more complicated, Spracklin said “maintaining a cost advantage, as well as successfully executing, will be tantamount in our view.”

Just Posted

RCMP seek suspect in Rimbey armed robbery

Rimbey Liquor Store was robbed at gunpoint about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday

Rimbey RCMP searching for suspects in break and enter spree

Rimbey RCMP are looking for a pair of culprits behind five break… Continue reading

Stolen vehicle and gun seized in Blackfalds

Blackfalds man to appear in court

Blood moon over Red Deer

Moon captures attention

China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks

SHANGHAI — The Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company preliminary approval… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Olympian Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Ontario riding

MILTON, Ont. — Former Olympic flag-bearer Adam van Koeverden will be carrying… Continue reading

World champion Osmond says it’s “really nice” not to know what future holds

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Kaetlyn Osmond has a world title, Olympic medals… Continue reading

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

Timberlake pops in on patients at Texas children’s hospital

DALLAS — Justin Timberlake has pulled some sunshine from his pocket for… Continue reading

UK police speak to Prince Philip about not wearing seatbelt

LONDON — British police have spoken with Prince Philip after the husband… Continue reading

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

Most Read