Historic partnership between the WestJet Group and the Government of Alberta sets foundation for future of aviation growth across province

WestJet Group designates Calgary as its exclusive global connecting hub, and will concentrate all 787 Dreamliner intercontinental flying to YYC Calgary International Airport

Partnership to make Alberta the most cost-competitive aviation market in Canada, promote the province to the world, drive sustainability, enhance post-secondary programs, and improve skilled labour supply for the aviation sector

WestJet Group to double its capacity in YYC before end of decade

CALGARY, AB, Oct. 5, 2022 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group and the Government of Alberta today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership, focused on significantly advancing aviation across the province in support of a stronger economy and a long-lasting, sustainable future for Alberta’s aviation sector. As the airline furthers its growth strategy, WestJet will invest aircraft capacity, with an asset value in excess of seven billion dollars, in Calgary alone, through significant fleet commitments to be based within the province.

WestJet will designate YYC Calgary International Airport as its single global connecting hub and will concentrate all intercontinental 787 Dreamliner flying in Calgary, unlocking opportunity for new routes within North America, to Europe, with the potential to reach Asia. Alongside the 787s, WestJet will grow its mid-range fleet and strengthen its North American offerings, with its commitment to double capacity in Calgary before the end of the decade.

In addition to Calgary, WestJet plans to grow its network across other Canadian communities, strengthening its footprint in the east and in leisure travel across the entire country, consistent with its strategic plan released in June 2022 and its recent purchase announcement of 42 Boeing 737-10 MAX aircraft. 

“Alberta has been WestJet’s home for 26 years and today’s historic agreement builds upon an existing foundation of low taxes and investment-friendly policies. As Western Canada’s home team carrier, Alberta is an area where we want to continue to invest to secure WestJet’s thriving future,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, Chief Executive Officer, the WestJet Group. “Through the pandemic and onward, the Government of Alberta prioritized the importance and advancement of aviation and the visitor economy across the province and recognized that aviation is central to the economic diversification of Alberta.”

The agreement between the airline and the Government of Alberta will see the government invest in developing Alberta’s aviation sector. It further lays out strategic, collaborative priorities to ensure provincial policies are aligned and in support of the development of the entire aviation industry in Alberta. The Government of Alberta and the WestJet Group will seek opportunities to address the overall cost-competitiveness challenges for the sector.

“This is a blockbuster day for Alberta and a game-changer for our economy. Diversification and economic development are happening right here in Alberta,” said the Honourable Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta. “By choosing Calgary as its single global hub, locating its entire Dreamliner fleet here, and increasing its annual seat capacity by 80 per cent, WestJet will massively improve global connectivity, tourism and options for passengers.”

“Today is a proud day for our organization as we continue to strengthen our home province with four distinct advantages: affordability, sustainability, infrastructure and people,” continued von Hoensbroech. “This agreement is a testament to WestJet’s commitment to our global hub airport in Calgary, as investments like this can only occur under the right commercial and operational environments. YYC Calgary International Airport is providing us that confidence and with these investments, Calgary can become North America’s most connected mid-sized city.”

Partnership highlights:

Affordability

  • Provide Travel Alberta with additional funding in support of travel and tourism efforts
  • Work to address the challenges associated with high aviation fuel prices for air passengers and industry
  • Advance Alberta’s status as a global aviation hub by enabling more to and from flights and more connecting passengers

People

  • Improve access to pilot training with investment and expansion of the Mount Royal University pilot training program
  • Collaboration to ensure pilots are trained in Alberta with the appropriate technology and partnerships
  • Potential development of advanced commercial aviation training programs for aviation-related specialties, including a potential degree program
  • Funding of an annual hiring training grant to ensure support for training and other associated costs

Sustainability

  • Commitment to the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) capacity at scale in Alberta as central to economic diversification and reducing carbon emissions from aviation
  • Commitment to assist WestJet in improving its own technology and software in support of a low-carbon future

Infrastructure

  • Government of Alberta and the WestJet Group to seek opportunities to enable growth through strategic public and private investments that support aerospace and aviation sector needs

Additional Quotes

“For more than a quarter century WestJet has been a leader in Canada’s aviation sector and a critical part of our city’s economic growth and diversification. I can’t overstate the importance for companies in Calgary to be able to easily connect to other leading global business centres,” said Calgary Mayor, Jyoti Gondek. “Today is a prime example of effective collaboration between the City and the Province with a leading local company to make a major investment in our economic future and make Calgary a global aviation sector hub.”

“It’s an exciting day for YYC and Alberta. WestJet’s decision to make YYC its single global hub demonstrates confidence in the Calgary airport and solidifies a major investment in the region and Alberta,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO, of The Calgary Airport Authority. “We are firmly committed to ensuring our hub carrier and strategic airline partner has the commercial and operational environment it needs to continue growing its business with YYC. We welcome the support for the future investment in the Alberta and Calgary air transportation sector announced today by WestJet and the Government of Alberta.”

About WestJet  

In 26 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic. 

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.