Westjet takes delivery of first 787

WestJet’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, named in honour of the airline’s chairman and founder, Clive Beddoe, leaves Payne Field in Washington on Thursday. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Westjet embarked on a new era as a global airline Thursday as it took delivery of its first Westjet Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The aircraft, tail number 901, was named for Westjet’s founder, Clive Beddoe.

The handover was conducted at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington before the plane was ferried to its new base in Calgary.

The 787 marks a milestone in Westjet’s transition from a low-cost national airline to a network airline, competing on the global stage.

Up to now, Westjet’s widebody fleet was limited to a handful of used Boeing 767 aircraft deployed on flights to London and some sun destinations in the winter.

WestJet’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is named after founder Clive Beddoe, centre. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“Today’s delivery marks a new chapter for WestJet,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer in a statement. “We look forward to bringing Canadians to the world and the world to Canada in comfort and style.”

The aircraft will carry 320 passengers, featuring the airline’s first-ever lie-flat seats in business class, as well as a premium economy section near the front of the plane.

The aircraft arrived Thursday evening in Calgary, where a new hangar was built for the 787. It is expected to enter service on February 20, flying between Calgary and Toronto so the crew can get familiar with the aircraft, before 787 service is launched to Dublin, Paris and London-Gatwick from Calgary this spring.

Boeing is building 10 Dreamliners for Westjet. The second and third examples are already being assembled and are expected to join the fleet in February and March.

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