Last year, WestJet executives lamented that delays at an MRO shop in the USA forced the delay of the carrier’s launch of Boeing 767 flights to Hawaii.

It seems those delays continue to affect WestJet’s operation, with executives now attributing recent widespread 767 operational issues, and resulting expenses, to the original MRO shop delays.

“We [took] delivery late from the maintenance facility that did the overhaul work. Most planes were 55 days behind the originally-planned [delivery] schedule, which reduced the time that is normally planned for… a shakeout period,” WestJet’s executive vice-president of operations Cameron Kenyon says on 26 July.

“Reliability has obviously been our primary challenge,” Kenyon says.

“Because they were late coming out of the MRO, they were pressed into service before an adequate shakedown period,” adds chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky.

Their comments came the same day WestJet announced its operating profit declined 39% year-over-year in the second quarter to C$61.4 million ($46.6 million).

The company also announced that it expects higher 2016 unit costs due largely to operational and maintenance issues with newly-acquired 767s.

Calgary-based WestJet now predicts its full-year 2016 cost per available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel and profit sharing expenses, will increase up to 3.5% year-over-year. In May, the company had projected the figure would not jump more than 2.5% year-over-year.


WestJet announced in July 2014 plans to acquire from Boeing four ex-Qantas 767-300ERs, its first widebodies.

The carrier planned initially to deploy the aircraft as early as August 2015 on runs between Toronto and Calgary, then deploy them on flights to Hawaii in December 2015.

But WestJet did not receive the first aircraft until 27 August 2015 and did not start 767 revenue flights on the overland route until October of last year, the company said.

Saretsky late last year attributed the delays to certification problems stemming from missing aircraft records and problems at an MRO site in Louisiana.

He did not name the maintenance site, but Flight Fleets Analyzer showed the aircraft were overhauled at Chennault International airport in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is home to an AAR widebody maintenance shop.

The aircrafts’ interiors were overhauled with new seats, floors, walls and inflight entertainment systems, Saretsky said.

WestJet now has all four 767s in its fleet, and began 767 flights to London from five Canadian cities in early May.

But the London operation has struggled, with media reports calling attention to a high incidence of cancellations and delays.

Indeed, shows many of WestJet’s 767 routes from London have had on-time rates of 25% of less since launched mid-May.

Average delays of some routes, such as London-Calgary and London-Edmonton, have been more than 100min, shows.

WestJet 767 London on-time 072616640px

WestJet has felt those delays on its bottom line.

In its second quarter regulatory filing, WestJet says a C$4.9 million increase in operating expenses in the period was “primarily driven by irregular Boeing 767 operations mainly attributable to flight delays and estimated regulated guest compensation on our London Gatwick routes”.

Saretsky notes that European Union regulations require airlines to compensate some customers at much as €600 ($659) following flight delays.

“These planes are very full, so every time there is a hiccup, there are 260 people to pay €600,” Saretsky says. “It does not take long, in a quarter, to rack up a significant bill.”


WestJet executives insist the company has largely fixed early operational problems.

Saretsky notes WestJet has completed 100% of its 767 London flights since the beginning of July.

“It was a blip, and the blip is behind us,” he says, adding that load factors on the London flights are “well ahead of system averages”.

“We are thinking of this as a transitory issue,” adds chief financial officer Harry Taylor.

“We are turning in a positive direction, and we are confident that the primary reliability issues that we saw have been addressed or have been significantly mitigated,” says Kenyon. “We… are now seeing reliability that… we reasonably expected when we started London Gatwick.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard