WestJet seeks Transport Canada approval to offer China flights

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is asking Transport Canada for regulatory approval to launch flights to China.

Calgary-based airline has ordered 10 Boeing Dreamliners

WestJet may purchase up to 20 Dreamliners over the next seven years as part of a deal that could see the airline access new international destinations. The latest announcement was flights to China. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is asking Transport Canada for regulatory approval to launch flights to China.

CEO Gregg Saretsky made the comments at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Friday, saying offering flights to Asia with lie-flat seats will allow the airline to add a luxury option to its mostly economical offerings.

"We have entered into the process with Transport Canada, and Transport Canada will soon engage the Chinese delegation from Beijing, and before too long we hope to be bringing back the specifics to you," he said.

He didn't announce which cities the airline would fly into, nor a potential launch date.

Saretsky said the plan is "in-sync with what the Canadian federal government has on its agenda, which is to double the number of inbound arrivals from China by 2022."

Last month, WestJet announced it had placed a firm order for 10 Boeing Dreamliners, which will have the range and fuel efficiency to serve new destinations in Asia, South America and expand the airline's presence in Europe.

WestJet's first Dreamliner 787s would be delivered between the first quarter of 2019 and December 2021.

The Calgary-based airline also has an option to buy an additional 10 Dreamliners to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.