General aviation

Westjet drops Edmonton, Winnipeg-London flights, looks to sell 767s

Westjet said Tuesday it is looking to sell its fleet of four ageing Boeing 767 aircraft after the next summer flying season (photo: Westjet).

The Canadian Prairie cities of Edmonton and Winnipeg will lose their only non-stop connections to the United Kingdom in the summer 2020. Westjet, hot on the heels of announcing a major expansion of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights to London-Gatwick from Vancouver and Toronto, said it would drop seasonal flights to England from the two cities in 2020.

“As of October 12, 2019 WestJet has cancelled non-stop Edmonton/London (Gatwick) and Winnipeg/London (Gatwick) routes, which were to be flown on our Boeing 767 aircraft this summer,” said Westjet spokesperson Morgan Bell in an e-mail, implying only a limited number of passengers would be affected. “We understand this is disappointing to the small number of guests who had made these travel plans for 2020 and apologize for any inconvenience.”

Westjet offered one weekly non-stop flight in July and August from both Edmonton and Winnipeg to London. Bell said passengers would be routed instead through Calgary and Toronto.

“The decision to remove these flights supports our plan to provide a more consistent guest experience across our Transatlantic operations as we receive our Dreamliner aircraft,” said Bell.

The airline said it remained committed to the two cities, despite the decision. Out of Edmonton, “Over the past five years, WestJet has added five new destinations, more than 200,000 annual seats or eight per cent more capacity into and out of the community,” said Bell. Westjet flies some 60 daily flights out of the Alberta capital, though has shifted significant capacity to its low-cost subsidiary, Swoop.

Westjet capacity out of Winnipeg increased more than 12% in the same time, with 30 daily departures to 25 destinations this year.

Westjet will add seven Dreamliners in the next two years, bringing the 787 fleet to 10 aircraft.

The arrival of the new aircraft means the ageing 767-300s are up for sale.

“We are gauging market interest through RFP in the procurement of the 767 fleet,” said Bell. “We plan on maintaining the 767 fleet through the summer of 2020 on existing markets, so no further impact to our guests, operations or crews will occur as a result. Should interest occur we will systematically work with all stakeholders on next steps.”

Westjet bought the four aircraft second-hand and they entered service in 2016.