WestJet’s decision to use St John’s as a launching pad for a conservative experiment in assessing the potential for trans-Atlantic service is not a huge threat to Air Canada yet. But it does put WestJet’s larger rival on notice that even as Air Canada’s fortunes look to be improving, WestJet does not have any intention of leaving any potential sources of revenue on the table, including trans-Atlantic routes where it can effectively deploy its Boeing 737 narrowbodies. In some ways WestJet’s move is not surprising given that the carrier has previously hinted at international market expansion beyond the transborder and Caribbean and Latin American markets it serves. But as the carrier has previously stressed, any move into a widebody aircraft operation is at least five years off as its immediate focus is on ensuring the successful launch of its regional carrier Encore and continuing to optimise its network. The carrier is, however, opting to engage in an exercise to learn more about the trans-Atlantic market while juggling the addition of several new elements to its business – Encore, new fare bundles centred on a premium economy product and its continuous quest to expand its business passenger base. It also helps make potential European partners aware that there is another Canadian airline bidding for expansion.
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Gravity always wins!