Calgary

WestJet announces non-stop Dreamliner flights to Rome

Calgarians looking to vacation in Italy will have more travel options to choose from starting this May, when WestJet says it will begin offering non-stop flights to Rome.

Flights to be offered seasonally starting in May 2020, WestJet CEO says

WestJet CEO Ed Sims announces non-stop flights to Rome at a news conference at the Fairmont Palliser on Wednesday. (Dave Gilson/CBC News)

Calgarians looking to vacation in Italy will have more travel options to choose from starting next May, when WestJet will begin offering non-stop flights to Rome, the Calgary-based company said Wednesday.

In a press conference at the Fairmont Palliser hotel, WestJet CEO Ed Sims announced that seasonal service between the Calgary International Airport and Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport will be offered once a week starting on May 2, 2020.

Service is set to increase to three flights a week starting May 28, 2020, Sims said.

The flight path is still awaiting government approval, but Sims says he believes the Italian destination will provide Calgarians with a convenient gateway to the Mediterranean and southeastern Europe.

"WestJet's continued international expansion from our home in Calgary reinforces our commitment to investing in the city as an international aviation hub," said Sims.

WestJet unveiled an oversized ticket to Rome when making the announcement. (Dave Gilson/CBC News)

The transatlantic flights will be offered on WestJet's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, 10 of which were ordered by the airline in May of 2017.

Sims credited the aircraft for bringing faraway destinations within the airline's reach because of its fuel efficiency. 

"These massive investments … drive economic growth, boost tourism and, most importantly, connect families and friends," Sims said. 

The airline is enjoying a profitable year after it saw profits plunge in 2018 because of factors that included steep competition from Air Canada and high fuel costs.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi spoke at the news conference and said he was optimistic that WestJet's expansion would contribute to the city's economic growth. 

"Welcome to another chapter in Calgary's comeback," said Nenshi.

"One of our major platforms for growth in this city is the transportation and logistics sector; one of the other ones is the tourism sector. So this beautifully brings those together."

WestJet also announced that it plans to increase Dreamliner flights by 52 per cent in 2020, which will include daily service to London and increased service to Paris.

With files from Dave Gilson and the Canadian Press

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