Since WestJet started flying long-haul routes, we’ve seen the airline function worldwide flights departing from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Halifax, and St. John’s sooner or later or one other.
Instantly following the pandemic, WestJet pursued a technique of renewing a large berth of worldwide flights from completely different airports throughout Canada.
Whereas the airline had certainly restored a few of its worldwide routes from varied Canadian cities, it is going to now double down on its Calgary hub. As of 2023, all of WestJet’s worldwide flights will originate from Calgary.
Let’s take a look at the modifications and what alternatives they may present you.
WestJet’s identification is quickly obvious in its title: it flies jets and it’s based mostly in Western Canada. For the reason that airline’s creation, Calgary has at all times been dwelling to the airline’s company workplaces and the recipient of its biggest consideration.
The latest announcement impacts all worldwide routes working from airports other than Calgary, and as of 2023, WestJet will solely function worldwide flights out of its Calgary hub.
Ever for the reason that nice journey rush of 2021–2022, WestJet has been experimenting with flying worldwide routes from elsewhere in Canada, together with from the jap a part of the nation the place Air Canada dominates the taking part in subject. It’s troublesome to establish how profitable these routes have been, however the choice to axe them should have been made based mostly on enterprise wants.
The latter a part of 2022 additionally noticed WestJet’s cancellation of quite a few home routes in Japanese Canada, a lot to the chagrin of residents of Atlantic provinces who aren’t essentially well-served by airways to start with.
The corporate seems to be following a “back-to-basics” strategy by funnelling their whole worldwide community into and out of Calgary. That is particularly advantageous as a result of it means they will promote tickets with single connections from locations that Air Canada doesn’t prioritize for service, corresponding to cities in Saskatchewan, to its home and worldwide community.
Furthermore, WestJet can piggyback off of value-minded travellers who choose to take ultra-low-cost carriers, corresponding to Lynx Air, to Calgary earlier than boarding WestJet flights to their last locations overseas.
As of subsequent yr, WestJet will service quite a few new worldwide routes from Calgary. Between April and Could, WestJet will launch new direct flights from Calgary to Tokyo Narita (NRT), Barcelona (BCN), and Edinburgh (EDI).
The airline can even proceed to function 5 present routes from Calgary at a larger frequency:
- London Heathrow (LHR): Every day
- London Gatwick (LGW): Every day from April 30, 2023
- Paris (CDG): Every day
- Rome (FCO): 5 occasions weekly from April 6, 2023 (seasonal in the course of the summer time)
- Dublin (DUB): 5 occasions weekly from April 30, 2023 (seasonal in the course of the summer time)
This is good news for Western Canadians attempting to reduce the headache of journey occasions and connections, however who want to fly internationally to a few of the hottest vacationer locations in Western Europe and Japan.
Sadly, WestJet’s direct flights from Calgary to Amsterdam are set to finish on March 24, 2023. Nonetheless, Albertans keen to achieve the Netherlands can nonetheless depart on a direct flight from Calgary or Edmonton with KLM.
We’ll even be watching intently to see if a few of these seasonal routes get promoted to year-round locations.
A Response or a Refocus?
It’s attention-grabbing that WestJet has made these cuts on the exact second that they did. Proper now, I can see a number of elements at play.
Firstly, these modifications got here into impact on December 20, 2022. Anybody being attentive to the information can see that within the face of report snowstorms and passenger volumes, each Canadian provider is struggling to fulfill the wants of travellers.
In such a troublesome context, it subsequently makes some sense for WestJet to give attention to the acquainted and enhance its operations in Calgary.
Secondly, evidently each new airline, particularly these of the ultra-low-cost selection, has been specializing in getting flights into Calgary. One such provider, Lynx Air, is even headquartered there.
Whereas the latest “Alberta Is Calling” marketing campaign run by the Alberta authorities to entice Canadians to maneuver to the province has been fairly profitable, do carriers assume that there are sufficient clients in Calgary to fill all of their seats? Or have their enterprise analysts drawn conclusions about development in Alberta the remainder of us can solely speculate about?
In my view, WestJet has seen home ultra-low-cost carriers flying to and from Calgary as a bonus, and one thing that they will make the most of to promote extra tickets abroad as leisure journey to Alberta will increase through the years.
This leads into the final attention-grabbing piece of this pivot, as WestJet’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, just lately joined the corporate in February 2022.
As the previous CEO of Austrian Airways, Hoensbroech was capable of lead the airline via the storm of COVID-19 and to proceed to outlive within the face of stiff competitors of European finances opponents, corresponding to Ryanair and Wizz Air.
Given Hoensbroech’s background, this pivot to a give attention to Calgary appears to align together with his beforehand profitable company methods.
WestJet has discontinued all of its worldwide routes from airports exterior of Calgary, whereas on the identical time increasing its capability to service abroad locations from Alberta.
Time will inform if this shift can pay dividends. Given the rise in site visitors of ultra-low-cost carriers servicing Calgary, and WestJet’s new CEO’s expertise in duelling with such opponents, this back-to-basics strategy may very well be extra profitable than its foray into Japanese Canada was.
Till subsequent time, go to pretty Alberta.