MIAMI — WestJet (WS) has celebrated today the airline’s first flight on the seasonal route from Alberta to Hawaii using its own Boeing 767-300 extended-range aircraft.  The airline will operate two 767s from Calgary and Edmonton to Honolulu and Maui.

This is a remarkable step in WestJet’s growth, with the airline having just received the Extended Operations (ETOPS) certification for long-range transoceanic wide-body operations.  This is the first time that the airline will operate its own aircraft in the route. Previously, WestJet leased Boeing 757-200s from several airlines to carry out the Hawaiian route on their behalf; including from North American Airlines and Thomas Cook.

“As we enter our 20th anniversary year, non-stop service from Alberta to Hawaii onboard our own wide-body aircraft is an exciting new chapter in the WestJet success story,” said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Commercial. “Albertans love non-stop WestJet service to Hawaii and we now have the opportunity to provide a full WestJet experience with our own Boeing 767-300 aircraft combined with our award-winning WestJetters.”

WestJet Introduces the Boeing 767-300ER

WestJet took delivery of its first Boeing 767-300 (C-FOGJ / MSN 25274/ LN 396) on August 27, 2015, and the second in November. The airline acquired four ex-QANTAS 767s, equipping them with Aviation Partners Boeing Winglets as well as a full new cabin interiors. The second WestJet 767 (C-COGN / MSN 25576 / LN 549) was also delivered via Calgary.

The aircraft have a 262-seat two-class cabin configuration. The WestJet Plus cabin has 24 premium seats, while the main cabin has 238 seats. To date, one of the aircraft is equipped with WestJet Connect, the airline’s new inflight entertainment and wireless connectivity system while the other will include tablets loaded with multimedia content. It is expected that by spring, all of the 767s will be equipped with WestJet Connect.

WestJet Boeing 767-300 Plus (premium economy) cabin. (Credits: WestJet)
WestJet Boeing 767-300 Plus (premium economy) cabin. (Credits: WestJet)

C-FOGJ was delivered to Calgary, wherein it remained on the ground for crew training and familiarization, prior to service entry. The inaugural / first revenue domestic flight of the WestJet Boeing 767-300ER took place on October 22 as WJA655 from Toronto to Calgary.

WestJet Boeing 767-300ER departing from Toronto. (Credits: Andrew Cline)
WestJet Boeing 767-300ER departing from Toronto. (Credits: Andrew Cline)

ETOPS Certification

Extended Operations (ETOPS) certification allows aircraft to be operated for extended distances (usually over water), and it is a fairly involved process.  ETOPS is concerned with flight times between diversion airfields, and is governed by the maximum flying time to a diversion.

ETOPS is required for WestJet’s direct service to Hawaii and for the commencement of the new Transatlantic routes to London Gatwick which will start in May.  By this time, two more 767s should have joined the fleet, for a total of four aircraft.  Gatwick will be served from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Toronto by the 767s, and St. John’s which will use 737s.

The inaugural WestJet’s Boeing 767-300 ETOPS Hawaiian service departed as flight number WJA1884 from Calgary to Kahalui (PHOG/OGG) on January 10th 2016 using C-FOGJ.  The widebody ETOPS combination has been a huge step into the world big jets for WestJet; the natural progression after having built a still growing fleet of over 100 Boeing 737 Next Generation narrowbodies, and two dozen Bombardier Q400 Turboprops.  WestJet’s new emphasis on overseas markets will undoubtedly generate continued growth in both fleets.  If successful, the widebodies will likely soon be replaced by new build aircraft, just like the carrier’s current Boeing 737 fleet.

“I want to thank the dozens of WestJetters across our network for their hard work and professionalism as we worked through ETOPS certification. Their efforts will bear fruit as these aircraft allow us to broaden our horizons,” concluded Cummings.