WestJet To Buy Boeing 787 Dreamliners

It looks like WestJet is planning on stepping up its game by buying twenty 787 Boeing Dreamliners to increase their international routes. Expect to see more direct routes from Canada to Asia, Europe and South America.

The news has been out for a while now, but the first delivery of 10 planes only arrive between the first quarter of 2019 and the end of 2021. There is an option for the additional 10 Dreamliners that would be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

Risky Move?

Some would argue that this is a high risk move by WestJet, as being a low-cost carrier is what gives them the edge over Air Canada (in some ways). However, if they do not make some bold moves, they will have a hard time bringing their business to another level.

I wonder if WestJet would be able to have a hybrid system, where they somehow maintain their low-cost option on their main fleet, while also offering a luxury product with these Dreamliners.

Thoughts Going Forward

I feel that this purchase moves WestJet from a low-cost carrier, to one of the more main stream carriers. And you guessed it, to compete more directly with Air Canada.

My initial thought is whether WestJet is setting itself up to join an airline alliance. Even though I would be very happy to see this happen, I would settle for an Alaska Airlines model, where they have many valuable code-share partners to choose from.

Either way, it would be interesting to see how this plays out. What are your thoughts about this move by WestJet?


  1. If they plan on going global and introducing a true business class lie flat product, WestJet needs to change their name. Maybe keep it for their low-cost carrier they plan on rolling out?

    They also need a revamped FF program.

  2. Hello Mathew;
    Thank you for the information and from my perspective this is great news. Living in the Calgary area I imagine that many of the new flights will be based out of YYC. Many people wondered (myself included) why the new runway and fancy International terminal were built but now it all makes sense. I imagine that this was in the works for some time. If I had to guess I would say YYC-AMS and YYC-CDG makes sense as Westjet could partner with KLM/Air France for continuing flights (they already partner with Delta which is in SkyTeam with KLM & Air France). Going to Asia they could fly YYC-ICN and partner with Korean Air for continuing flights in Asia. As far as South America goes I’m thinking Toronto to Rio or Buenos Aires as not enough traffic out of Calgary to S.A.

  3. WS has been morphing into a network carrier right before our eyes, and with their expressed wishes to grow internationally, not to mention running out of marketable destinations within 737NG range means that this widebody purchase should not surprise anyone.

    I don’t see them joining one of the 3 Branded Global alliances. WS will direct the VERY hefty entry fees (rumored to be in the hundreds of millions USD) elsewhere. I think you’re right Matthew, they will use an AS or B6-like partner strategy, with codeshares across a variety of carriers regardless of alliance. However I wouldn’t count out one or two targeted JVs where WS sees opportunity, but I don’t see this happening right away.

    I also do not see reverse-herringbone lie-flats or any kind of extravagant onboard product, at least initially. The uptake on these is very slim for the leisure routes that are WS’ bread-and-butter. I’m predicting a Norwegian Air or Air Asia-like fare structure, with a tweaked Plus upsell package for at least until WS settles down. Keep It Simple and Stupid! as they say.

    As for routes, I’ll be expecting major expansions from YYC and YUL as well as the usual sprinkles into YVR and YYZ. As for new destinations, WS will likely start with the usual suspects like HKG, HND/NRT, ICN, PEK,PVG/SHA, CDG, MAD, BCN, BRU, AMS, FRA, ZRH, etc. Also don’t count out 5th Freedom routes – these will be relatively lower-risk ways for WS to reach further destinations like Southeast Asia, India, Middle East, Africa, South America, etc.

    1. Those are all awesome possibilities, basically the sky is the limit and WestJet has an opportunity to really make their mark. I hope that they make the most of it!

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