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WestJet Enters A New Era With 787 Introduction

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WestJet Enters A New Era With 787 Introduction

Andrew Cline

WestJet Enters A New Era With 787 Introduction
January 27
10:03 2019

MIAMI — WestJet (WS) has taken delivery of its first brand new modern widebody, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, launching a fleet and an image renewal campaign that will put the airline in a whole different competitive position.

The first 787-9 was delivered from the Boeing factory at Everett Snohomish County Airport (PAE) in Seattle on January 17th, 2019, to Calgary as flight number WS8968.

Photo: Andrew Cline

It proceeded the next day to WestJet’s other main base in Toronto for training. Registered C-GUDH (Fleet number 901 • MSN 64974 / LN 792), it took off on its maiden flight on January 5, 2019.

A small ceremony was held before it departed from Seattle on the delivery flight, and the occasion was celebrated with the christening of aircraft by WestJet Founder and Chairman, Clive Beddoe, whose name is emblazoned on the airplane’s nose.

“Because of the leadership, vision and commitment of our founder and chairman, Clive, we had the opportunity to fly our Dreamliner home today,” according to WestJet CEO Ed Sims. “It’s fitting the aircraft bears our founder’s name as we welcome the future of WestJet.

WestJet’s Order book


On May 2, 2017, Boeing and WestJet announced a significant 787 Dreamliner order, solidifying the airline’s commitment to move further into the widebody / long haul regime.  

The order was for 10 787-9s, with 10 additional options. WestJet chose the General Electric GEnx-1B engine for its Dreamliner fleet.

The first ten 787-9 firm orders will be delivered by 2021, with the first three arriving this winter.  Plans are for the 10 options to be delivered by 2024.

The 320-seat Dreamliner (with a list price of $280 million) will allow WestJet to increase international competition with Air Canada, who operates 35 Dreamliners (both 787-8s (8) and 787-9s (27), which it started receiving in May 2014.

Westjet is targeting European expansion and new routes to Asia, Latin and South America. 

Initial routes


The first month after delivery will see Dreamliner tail number 901 carrying out training flights for crews as well as maintenance and ground personnel. 

Initial flight operations will be only for crew training and working towards ETOPS certification for the WestJet 787s. 

Dreamliner revenue operations will commence on the Toronto-Calgary domestic route on February 20. 

The first international 787-9 flight is scheduled on the daily Calgary to London-Gatwick route starting on April 28. 

The other European Dreamliner routes will be Calgary to Paris, four times per week, starting on May 17; and Calgary to Dublin, three times weekly starting on June 1. 

The Dreamliner will replace the Boeing 767 currently operating on the Calgary to Gatwick route.

WestJet’s Boeing 767s are also currently operating the daily Toronto to Gatwick route and Calgary to Hawaii routes—Honolulu – Oahu (HNL) and Kahului – Maui (OGG). 

After the first three Dreamliners are delivered, the 767s will continue to operate the Toronto – Gatwick route, as well as the seasonal Toronto-Barcelona route, and will be redeployed across the WestJet route network as required.

New as-yet unannounced international routes will be inaugurated by the Dreamliner as more aircraft are delivered later in 2019.  Possible new direct routes may include flights to Santiago, Chile and Sao Paulo, Brazil and several Australian destinations (as indicated on the WestJet route map).

The new Dreamliner routes will amount to a total of 14 weekly flights from Calgary to the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

Ed Sims, the President and Chief Executive Officer for WestJet, said that the airline has the potential to eventually bring more than 150,000 visitors to Calgary each year across the three new flights.

The new routes will support an estimated 650 full-time jobs and $100 million in economic output, according to WestJet. 

Sims also said that WestJet’s decision to base the first three of those assets in Calgary is a “huge vote of confidence in the local economy and in the airport.”

Fleet Expansion


WestJet has grown steadily since it was founded in Calgary in 1996.  It currently operates 120 Boeing 737 aircraft in 4 variants: the 737-600 (13), 737-700 (54), 737-800 (42), and the latest 737 variant—the new 737- MAX 8 (11 in service, more on order).

History is made as the first WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8 lands at Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport on October 12, 2017, on its first revenue flight from Calgary as WJA662 • Photo Andrew Cline

Six more Boeing 737-800s acquired in 2015 were transferred from mainline to Swoop (WO/WSW), Westjet’s new Hamilton-based Ultra Low-Cost division in 2018.

WestJet was an entire narrowbody airline until it acquired its first widebodies: four secondhand 1991-vintage Boeing 767-300ERs acquired from QANTAS starting in October 2015.

These currently fly WestJet’s European and Hawaiian routes, and will eventually be replaced by the Dreamliner.

WestJet’s regional affiliates are Encore (WR), founded in 2012, operating 47 Bombardier Q400s across Canada; and WestJet Link, founded in 2018 using three WestJet branded Saab 340s operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines (8P) on the west coast.

New Livery


A brand-new corporate livery was designed by Ove Brand Design for the introduction of the Dreamliner.

The design was implemented for the aircraft by Seattle-based design company Boeing and Teague.

The WestJet wordmark has been updated to Bliss font for a more uniform and current style. The Maple Leaf symbol has a more contemporary and bold look, and the logo also now uses a single color. 

The ‘Spirit of Canada’ corporate design is influenced by iconic Canadian landscapes, featuring a new maple leaf design tail in the airline’s corporate colors of dark blue and teal.

WestJet’s first brand new widebody, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner C-GUDH • Photo: Andrew Cline

The livery wraps the colored tail down around the bottom of the aft fuselage.

‘Spirit of Canada’ titles adorn the left side and French ‘L’esprit du Canada’ on the right.

Picture: WestJet

The interior of the Dreamliner is beautifully styled based on the new theme. 

The new livery was introduced to service on the latest Boeing 737 MAX 8s delivered new from Seattle in 2018. The first was C-FNWD fleet number 308 (MSN 60517/LN 6980), which was factory painted by Boeing and delivered on June 21, 2018. 

Three others have since been delivered in the new livery.

The livery will gradually appear across WestJet’s entire fleet as more new aircraft are delivered and as older aircraft are repainted in their normal respray cycle.

The Dreamliner


The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a state-of-the-art aircraft that is 20% percent more fuel efficient than Westjet’s current widebody, the Boeing 767-300ER.

With a range of more than 14,000 kilometres, Dreamliners are at least 10% more fuel efficient than the best of its competitor’s aircraft of a similar size according to Boeing.

WestJet’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners are configured with 320 seats in 3 classes: 16 Business class seats (4 rows of 4) at 46” pitch, 12 Premium seats (4 rows of 7) at 38”, and 276 Economy class seats at 31” (30 rows of 9 and 2 rows of 3).

Business class offers individual pods with lay flat seating, accompanied by luxurious blankets and pillows, turndown service and large TVs. 

WestJet Premium will offer seats in a 2x3x2 configuration, an elevated guest experience with a separate and private cabin, cozy blankets and pillows available on every seat along with a self-serve social area.

Some fantastic new features offered by the Dreamliner include:

  • Smart sensors that detect turbulence and are designed to reduce motion sickness eightfold.
  • The biggest window size of any airliner, which are electro-chemically dimmable.
  • High vaulted ceiling, wide body, and adjustable brightness and colour LED lighting.
  • More humid cabin air, pressurized to 2,000 ft lower than the standard 6000ft, making it more comfortable and easier to breathe.
  • HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) air filtering technology – the same used in hospital operating rooms
  • A quiet air conditioner and electronic noise attenuation technology that softens engine noise and reduces vibrations in sidewalls and ceilings.

“We are excited to welcome our friends at WestJet to the Dreamliner family,” said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice-president of commercial sales and marketing for Boeing.

“The airline has achieved impressive growth with the Boeing 737 and will now use the 787’s unmatched performance and passenger comforts to profitably launch a new ‘global era’.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will give WestJet a huge capability boost for its expanding international route network, and will see Canada’s second largest airline move into new territory as it continues to grow.  

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Andrew Cline

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