WestJet officially launched its new Dreamliner featuring its new long-haul Business cabin seats between Calgary and London, Gatwick with the departure of WS1. The sold-out flight, expected to land in Gatwick at 11:00 a.m. local time, was a first for WestJet's new 787-9 Dreamliner. The return flight, WS2 departs London at 1 p.m. local time on Monday.
"Today is a fantastic day for WestJet as we take this important step in our journey to become a full-service global network airline," said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. "The London market has quickly become an important one for us with service from six cities across Canada. It is no accident that the first transatlantic flight on the Dreamliner is to our largest international market, from our largest hub and home in Calgary."
"The three years since WestJet's inaugural flight from Gatwick have been a real success story, with thousands of business and leisure passengers enjoying the vital low-cost connections between the UK and Canada that these services have provided," said Guy Stephenson, Gatwick Airport Chief Commercial Officer. "WestJet's presence at Gatwick continues to grow, and it's very exciting for us to be supporting the airline as it moves into this important new era. The launch of the 787 Dreamliner will offer around 24,000 more Gatwick-Calgary seats per year on the same number of aircraft, and its highly fuel-efficient engines will also help us in our ongoing mission to become the UK's most sustainable airport."
Hal Eagletail of the Tsuut'ina National, members of Treaty 7 of Southern Alberta, Keith Henry, President and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, along with David Goldstein, President and CEO of Destination Canada were on board the inaugural flight to celebrate and promote one of the fastest growing sectors of the Canadian tourism industry, Indigenous tourism.
"Being a part of this inaugural Dreamliner flight with WestJet provides a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness across the UK and rest of Europe of the powerful Indigenous experiences waiting to be explored across Canada," said Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. "Our research shows that a third of international visitors to Canada are requesting ways to experience Indigenous culture. WestJet is literally opening up new airways for us into these important markets."
Tail 901, WestJet's first Dreamliner, named Clive Beddoe, also carried the founder and chairman himself.
"Today is an emotional experience that I am delighted to share with my family, 320 WestJet guests and our fantastic flight crew," said Clive Beddoe. "We are pleased to see significant demand for our business and premium cabins as we provide travellers with conveniently-timed flights along with our signature brand of Canadian care."
"This shows a high degree of confidence for the future prospects of leisure and business travel between Canada and the UK," said Mrs. Janice Charette, the High Commissioner for Canada. "We are also excited that WestJet has taken this opportunity to use today's event to showcase Canada's Indigenous peoples and to their contribution to tourism in Canada."
"As this first Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes flight for London-Gatwick, WestJet embarks on a new era of international service for the airline," said Bob Sartor, President and CEO, Calgary Airport Authority. "We're proud that WestJet's story took off at YYC, and we're here to support the airline going forward as more destinations are added."
On May 17, WestJet will launch its inaugural direct Dreamliner flight between Calgary to Paris with its final transatlantic flight between Calgary and Dublin on June 1.
WestJet's Dreamliners carry 320 guests in a three-class cabin configuration including the airline's newly revealed Business cabin featuring 16 private pods with lie-flat seats, an upscale Premium cabin and an updated Economy cabin.
WestJet is Calgary's largest airline, and by June 2019, will offer flights to 68 non-stop destinations with over 1,000 flights per week from YYC. More Calgarians choose WestJet for their air travel than any other airline.