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Thursday,  July 25, 2024   3:17 PM
On Location: WestJet’s “ambition to showcase Canada” via Japan routes, Indigenous tourism
WestJet held an event on Monday (Dec. 5) to launch its new direct service from Calgary to Tokyo, Japan, starting in April 2023. (Pax Global Media)

It’s not every day WestJet announces a new route aboard the Dreamliner, but it’s also only the second time in its history to add a new continent to its roster.

Exclusive guests – PAX included – braved the dreary and snowy road conditions early Monday morning (Dec. 5) to The Brownstone in Calgary, Alberta to witness the unveiling.

As it was announced across all media outlets yesterday, Asia is the newest and latest continent WestJet will fly to, with direct service from Calgary to Tokyo, Japan, three-times weekly beginning in April 2023.

Tokyo was a “natural choice” for WestJet's first destination in Asia, the airline said in a press release yesterday.

WestJet will also be the only airline providing transpacific service to Asia direct from Alberta.

Also building on its existing routes, WestJet will begin spring service with more than 40 weekly departures from Calgary to Europe, enhancing frequency to seven European cities, including London Heathrow and London Gatwick, United Kingdom; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Dublin, Ireland

New three-times weekly flights between Calgary and Barcelona, Spain and Edinburgh, Scotland will also launch in May 2023.

The updates reaffirms the WestJet Group's renewed focus in Western Canada. With yesterday's announcements, the airline is set to increase its Calgary capacity by more than 25 per cent in 2023.

Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of WestJet. (Pax Global Media)

WestJet’s strategy is to build Calgary as its hub city centres around its flight schedule to maximize traffic and connectivity from 24 regional communities.

This allows increased access for travellers to the world and to bring international visitors to Canada, particularly Calgary and Alberta. Key strategic partnerships with YYC Calgary Airport, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Economic Development, the Governments of Alberta and Canada and Indigenous Tourism Alberta support the investment into our economy.

Strategic partnerships

Yesterday, Bob Sartor, president and CEO of YYC Calgary Airport, spoke of the airport’s commitment to WestJet’s plans.

“Our focus with WestJet is to continue to ensure the growth of the conditions to make it worth their while to call Calgary home and to continue to grow in Calgary. Our job it to provide the kind of hospitality required to have a great journey through the airport and empower people to focus on the customer journey and make it as easy as possible,” Sartor told attendees at yesterday’s launch event.  

Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of WestJet, emphasized the role of strategic partnerships for the company’s growth and success.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. (Pax Global Media)

“Partnership is key to our future and the key to Calgary and Alberta as a key global aviation centre. All the ingredients for success is here – the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation will attract international guests and key markets for investment.”

Canada’s Minister of Tourism, and Associate Minister of Finance and Minister of Alberta, and Member of Parliament, Randy Boissonnault, recognized the announcement as a historic moment to savour.

“Today’s announcement represents WestJet’s ambition to showcase Canada to the world, particularly Alberta,” he said.

Indigenous Tourism

In addition, WestJet’s partnership with Indigenous Tourism Alberta is the first of its kind, being the first Canadian company to partner with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC).

The importance of partnerships with Indigenous Tourism and Tourism Alberta are two of the most fundamental partnerships for Travel Alberta in rebuilding the visitor economy, officials said.

David Goldstein, CEO of Travel Alberta, affirmed the undertaking.

“Today’s announcement is an important accelerant to our ability to recapture that international market. It’s an historic time for us to be on the world stage as a global hub, making it easier and frictionless for international travellers to come from our most important markets.”

National Geographic chose Indigenous Alberta Tourism, the only Canadian experience selected to be one of the “Top 23 Things to Do in 2023,” for its unique global experiences to highlight.

The event concluded fittingly with an Indigenous cultural performance, featuring Fancy Dancer Faith Starlight and singer and drummer Tim Mintuk.

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