This weekend, WestJet celebrated the departure of flight WS80 from YYC Calgary International Airport to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, marking the Canadian carriers first Asian service.
First Asian flight service
The airline’s first-ever service to Asia marks an important milestone for WestJet as the airline reaffirms its Western Canadian growth strategy and commitment to strengthening Alberta’s vibrant visitor economy.
“We are thrilled to see our new service to Tokyo, Japan take flight as we welcome our newest destination to our 787 intercontinental hub at YYC,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer.
“Not only does this new route increase opportunities for business, leisure and cargo customers to expand their horizons in Asia, it also provides an exceptional opportunity to welcome transpacific leisure and business travellers direct to Calgary and Alberta.”
“We are delighted about WestJet’s new flight between Calgary and Tokyo,” said Rob Palmer, Vice President, Commercial, Strategy and Chief Financial Officer for The Calgary Airport Authority.
“YYC Calgary International Airport is proud to be the first impression of Alberta’s western hospitality for many travellers coming to explore the region from Asia. As WestJet’s sole connecting global hub, the airline has been a key part of YYC’s success.”
“We look forward to continuing to support our partners’ growth, and welcoming travellers from around the world.”
The newly inaugurated Tokyo service will continue to operate on the airline’s 787 Dreamliner three times per week through October 28, and will return in Spring 2024.
The airline’s passengers travelling between Calgary and Tokyo, the in-flight service is planned to include both Western and Japanese inflight meals, Japanese entertainment options and the comfort of Japanese announcements and menus.
Japan travel connections
Canada and Japan enjoy rich cultural and people-to-people linkages. According to the Canadian government’s 2021 Census, there are over 99,000 people of Japanese origin residing in Canada.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 600,000 Japanese and Canadians travelled annually to each other’s country.
Japanese manga and anime have many fans in Canada, and Canadian musicians of all genres have an active following in Japan.
There are 25 friendship associations, 71 sister city/sister province relationships, and one cooperation agreement between Japanese and Canadian communities.
The long relationship between the two countries was highlight in the comments of Travel Alberta’s CEO, on the occasion of the WestJet Tokyo route inauguration.
“For decades, Japanese travellers have had a special relationship with Alberta. The Calgary-Tokyo flight represents an important opportunity to rebuild that bridge,” said David Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer, Travel Alberta.
“This new flight will deliver approximately $1.1B in potential tourism income and 24,000 passenger seats. We look forward to welcoming back this important international market to our beautiful province.”
“The diversity of Indigenous culture on these traditional territories we now call Alberta, is waiting to be shared with guests around the world, but especially the Japanese traveller,” said Shae Bird, Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Tourism Alberta.
“With one in five Japanese travellers expressing interest in our member’s offerings, this provides direct access for cultural learning, meaningful connections and lasting relationships with the Japanese market,” he said.
WestJet’s non-stop flight to Tokyo will be one of many new direct services which the Canadian carrier is launching this spring.
Passengers travelling out of WestJet’s hub in Calgary can also connect to Barcelona, Edinburgh and five other European nonstop destinations as part of the airline’s already robust international offerings.