Canadian airline WestJet has been granted landing slots at Dubai International Airport for next year's summer travel season, opening up the possibility of direct non-stop flights from Calgary to the UAE.
These would be the first WestJet flights to the Middle East — and the first to connect the two cities.
WestJet has been listed as a “new operator” to Dubai International in a report by Airport Co-ordination Limited, which collates information about landing slots around the world. Research revealed that WestJet had been allocated 186 slots for the 31-week summer travel season, which begins on March 27. The airline had initially requested more than double that number.
The data confirms WestJet has been granted permission to carry a total of 59,520 passengers over the summer season, amounting to three round-trip journeys per week. The route would be operated on WestJet’s 320-passenger Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
However, the airline has yet to make an official announcement regarding the launch of flights to Dubai. "We are constantly evaluating our network opportunities, however at this time, we do not have any new destinations or network updates to announce," the airline told The National.
"As we continue to build on our growing list of international destinations, WestJet, like many airlines, applies for airport slots globally to gain an understanding of slot availability. Understandably, we don’t control the slot times that then become available to us and they may or may not be optimal for our operation."
WestJet currently flies to 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. It carries 22 million passengers per year on more than 700 flights per day, and operates a fleet of more than 150 aircraft.
An agreement with the government of Alberta last month solidified the airline’s moves to make Calgary its primary hub and the home of its intercontinental 787 Dreamliners.
"As western Canada's home team carrier, Alberta is an area where we want to continue to invest to secure WestJet's thriving future," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, chief executive of WestJet Group. "Through the pandemic and onward, the government of Alberta prioritised the importance and advancement of aviation and the visitor economy across the province and recognised that aviation is central to the economic diversification of Alberta."
The airline has been steadily expanding its international route network over the past year. It operated its inaugural flight from Calgary International Airport to London Heathrow in March and to Rome in May, also launching a service between Toronto and Edinburgh in June.