After a delay caused in part by maintenance issues, WestJet Airlines has received ETOPS certification for its small used Boeing 767-300 fleet, allowing the airline to operate its own extended-range overwater flights for the first time.
The Canadian LCC said it received certification on Dec. 30, but the inaugural flight took place on Jan. 10, operating from Edmonton, Alberta, to Maui.
Since Dec. 11, WestJet had been using wet-leased Boeing 767-200s and Boeing 767-300s from Onmi Air International, as it sought ETOPS certification from Canadian regulators by flying its first aircraft between Toronto and Calgary. This winter season’s Hawaii flights were supposed to launch with WestJet’s own widebodies.
On WestJet’s third-quarter earnings call held Nov. 3, CEO Gregg Saretsky blamed Boeing Capital for the delay, saying WestJet put its first 767 into service later than it expected. “They chose a maintenance repair facility in Louisiana, which struggled,” Saretsky told analysts. There were also issues with the thoroughness of previous maintenance records on the aircraft. Boeing Capital is facilitating the transfer of WestJet’s four widebodies from Qantas (Aviation Daily, Nov. 4, 2015).
On the call, Saretsky said, “any delay that causes incremental expense for us ought to be reimbursable by Boeing,” suggesting some wet-lease costs might be paid by Boeing Capital. WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer, however, declined to comment Jan. 11 on the structure of any deal with Boeing Capital.
Palmer said WestJet still only has two of the four 767s in service, adding the others will be ready “by the spring.” On May 7 and May 8, WestJet will launch five new 767 routes to London Gatwick, from Toronto (daily), Vancouver (six times per week) Calgary (five times per week), Edmonton, (twice per week) and Winnipeg (once weekly).