Canadian LCC WestJet will base its initial Boeing 787s at its Calgary hub and will launch new nonstop services next year between the airport and three European cities in its network, bringing two new routes to Calgary International Airport (YYC) in the process, the airline confirmed Oct. 10.

The Calgary-based carrier’s first international 787 route will connect YYC and London Gatwick, starting April 28. WestJet currently flies the seasonal route using 767s. On May 17, it will add YYC-Paris Charles de Gaulle to its 787 network. YYC-Dublin will start June 1.

While WestJet serves larger markets via its Toronto and Vancouver hubs, choosing YYC for its initial 787 routes is not a surprise. The market has less long-haul competition, and the airline provided strong indication of its thinking last fall when it unveiled plans to construct its first 787-sized hangar at YYC.

Published summer 2019 schedules show the Canadian carrier will be the only airline flying nonstops between YYC and both Dublin and Paris. Air Canada operates daily YYC-London service, while British Airways’ schedule shows it will resume its summer-season service in 2019.  Both use 787s on the route.

“We chose Calgary for the 787 launch because when it comes to widebody international service, this market is considerably underserved,” WestJet CEO Ed Sims said.

WestJet’s most recent summer schedule offered one-stop flights between YYC and both Dublin and Paris. In each case, the transatlantic leg was flown via Halifax using 737-8s.

Peak summer scheduling will see daily service on the London route, 4X-weekly round-trips on the Paris route, and three on the Dublin route.

WestJet expects to take delivery of its first 787-9 in early 2019 and plans to have three in service when it deploys them internationally. The widebodies will start out on domestic routes to support training and regulatory-compliance efforts. The airline has 10 787s on order and options for 10 more. 

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com