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

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Scathing suicide inquiry finds gaps, shortcomings at Royal Military College

OTTAWA — Members of a board of inquiry into three suicides at… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month