Westjet celebrated the official opening of its 787 Dreamliner hangar in Calgary, becoming the first airline to base its three 787s in the Prairie city.
The 125,000 square foot hangar represents an investment of $50 million, and can handle one Dreamliner, or four of the company’s standard 737 aircraft. Westjet said the hangar can also accommodate up to 130 staff with tools and work space.
“Today marks another significant step in WestJet’s journey as a global network carrier,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO in a statement. “This state-of-the-art facility provides the perfect environment for our highly skilled aviation maintenance engineering teams to continue to ensure the safety and comfort of our 25 million annual guests.”
Westjet will operate its first European Dreamliner flight Sunday from Calgary to London-Gatwick. On Wednesday, the flight still showed 66 empty seats, all of them in economy class, with the cheapest selling at more than $12-hundred.
Westjet will also operate flights to Dublin and Paris from Calgary. In all, Westjet will fly more than 116,000 seats each week from Calgary this summer to 67 destinations.
The airline has previously said it is purposely under-utilizing its 787s this summer, having learned lessons from a previous deployment of used 767 aircraft to Europe that went awry when mechanical issues forced delays to scheduled operations.
Westjet has suspended its financial forecasts for the year, due to the grounding of 13 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. It has juggled schedules to keep passengers moving, and in March, reported a record 87% load factor aboard its aircraft.
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