WestJet is expanding service to Asia. In April 2023, the airline added a route to Tokyo, and now the airline is adding service to Seoul. While WestJet first announced this route several weeks back, tickets are now on sale, so I wanted to go over all the details, for those who may be interested in booking.
In this post:
WestJet will fly from Calgary to Seoul as of May 2024
WestJet has announced plans to launch service to South Korea. Specifically, as of May 17, 2024, the airline will fly 3x weekly between Calgary (YYC) and Seoul Incheon (ICN). The flight will operate with the following schedule:
WS86 Calgary to Seoul Incheon departing 5:55PM arriving 8:45PM (+1 day)
WS87 Seoul Incheon to Calgary departing 10:45PM arriving 6:15PM
The 5,321-mile flight is blocked at 11hr50min to South Korea, and 10hr30min to Canada. The westbound flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, while the eastbound flights will operate on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The airline will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, featuring 320 seats. This includes 16 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 276 economy class seats.
For context, this Asia expansion out of Calgary follows WestJet recently going all-in on Alberta, promising to significantly expand its presence at Calgary Airport. This is thanks to a new partnership with the government of Alberta.
Here’s how John Weatherill, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer, describes this new service:
“It is with great pleasure that WestJet will serve as Alberta’s only direct link to South Korea, furthering our 787 global connectivity from our home city of Calgary. Beyond creating greater two-way tourism opportunities, WestJet service between Seoul and Calgary will increase connectivity between Western Canada and Asia generating unique business and cargo opportunities. We saw tremendous success with the launch of service to Asia last summer and anticipate our entry into Seoul will be warmly welcomed by Canadians.”
Also as of the summer of 2024, WestJet will be increasing its Calgary to Tokyo service from 3x weekly to daily, so that seems to be a success. This expanded service to Asia complements WestJet’s other Boeing 787 flights for this coming summer, which are to Europe.
It’s nice to see WestJet expanding in Asia
As I always say, Canadian aviation is complicated. Canada is huge and sparsely populated, and Air Canada is Canada’s only “true” global airline. Then you have a growing number of ultra low cost carriers, which are operating point-to-point routes in Canada’s biggest markets, putting downward pressure on fares. And then you have Porter, which is growing its service across Canada with a more full service model.
That puts WestJet in a tough position, as there’s a ton of competition. I think that’s why it’s logical that the airline doubles down on Calgary, since it’s a market where WestJet has significant market share.
WestJet has a small Boeing 787 fleet, as the airline flies just seven of these jets (the airline was initially considering a bigger Dreamliner fleet, but decided not to exercise options), so the airline has to be intentional with its long haul service.
I was skeptical when WestJet announced it would fly to Tokyo. While the airline would be the only carrier to operate that point-to-point route, with connections, the airline is going up against some major competition. However, WestJet seems to be doing well in the market, and will even be expanding service in the coming months.
In the summer of 2024, WestJet will exclusively be basing its Boeing 787s out of Calgary, flying to Tokyo and Seoul in Asia, and to Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Paris, and Rome, in Europe. The carrier’s evolution is that it’s flying long haul exclusively out of Calgary, rather than trying to compete out of Toronto, and I’d say that’s logical.
WestJet will be expanding its Asia service in the summer of 2024. The airline will launch 3x weekly flights between Calgary and Seoul Incheon, in addition to expanding Calgary to Tokyo Narita flights to daily. Given how small the carrier’s 787 fleet is, it’s fascinating to see the increasing service to Asia.
What do you make of WestJet’s Calgary to Seoul Incheon route, and the carrier’s general Asia expansion?