WestJet Expands Flights To Europe With Acquisition Of Dreamliner Aircraft

WestJet Airlines is expanding to Europe.

The first three of WestJet's (TSX: WJA) 10 new long-distance Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft will offer direct international flights between Calgary and Europe, the company announced Wednesday.

The new airplanes will allow WestJet to offer direct flights between Calgary and Dublin and Paris. One of the new planes will also fly between Calgary and London, England.

"This is a huge day for WestJet. This signals our first real venture into becoming a full-service, fully global network carrier," said airline Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims in a news release. "It's a transformation of an organization that started 22 years ago, flying low cost, point-to-point. We're now rubbing shoulders with the big guys around the world."

WestJet said it also hopes the routes will bring up to 200,000 visitors to Calgary each year, starting in April 2019 when the international flights are scheduled to start in earnest. The company said the three new routes will support 650 full-time jobs and $100 million in economic output.

Dreamliner aircraft have a range of 14,000 kilometres and are said to be as much as 20% more fuel efficient than WestJet's current fleet of 767 airplanes. WestJet has ordered a total of 10 of the planes, with the first arriving in Calgary in early 2019 and the other two by April, according to the airline. The hubs for those additional planes have not been announced.

WestJet has options for an additional 10 Dreamliner aircraft to arrive between 2020 and 2024.