WestJet To Launch Toronto-Dublin Route: A Heated Battle For Success?

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Starting this coming spring, WestJet, the low-cost Canadian carrier, has announced the launch of a new transatlantic route to Dublin, Ireland.

The new non-stop flights will commence with a four-times-weekly service starting on the 15th May 2022 and increasing to daily on 2nd June 2022.

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In announcing the route, John Weatherill, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer stated, “as demand increases, we know travelers are looking for convenient and affordable options for travel between Canada and Europe. As we continue to focus on expanding our network from our Toronto hub where we offer 33 international destinations, these flights will further strengthen business and leisure ties between Canada and Ireland and will increase connectivity between the two key markets (WestJet, 2021).”

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The seasonal flights will commence with an inaugural service between Toronto and Dublin, operated onboard a Boeing 737 MAX. The flights will feature the airline’s newly redesigned Premium cabin, offering enhanced levels of privacy and comfort, including an inflight dining experience and a wider 2 x 2 cabin seating configuration.

The Route in Details


The outbound service, Toronto – Dublin, will depart from Canada at 21:10, flying overnight and arriving in Ireland at 08:45 the next morning.

The aircraft will be turned around within 1 hour 20 minutes and will return back departing at 10:05 and arriving back in Canada at 12:40.

This favorable schedule will permit additional operational flying with the aircraft, increasing the utilization rate. 

WestJet operates the Boeing 737 MAX in a two-class configuration, consisting of 12 seats in Premium with a 38-inch pitch and 21.3-inch width alongside 162 Economy seats with a 31-34-inch pitch and 17-inch width.

The Boeing 737 MAX has a maximum range of 3,550 nautical miles/6,570 kilometers, with Toronto to Dublin coming in at 2,849 nautical miles/5,276 kilometers (Great Circle Mapper, 2021).

Source: Great Circle Mapper

WestJet is not the only airline operating between Toronto and Dublin. Cirium data for October 2021 shows that alongside Irish carrier Aer Lingus and Canadian carrier Air Canada, Ethiopia’s Ethiopian Airlines also operates between the two cities, operating Addis Ababa – Dublin – Toronto – Addis Ababa.

Aer Lingus currently offers a greater frequency on the route, operating the Airbus A321 NEO with 16 seats in Business and 168 in Economy.  

Aer Lingus departs Dublin at 13:30, arriving in Toronto at 16:15, with a turnaround of 1 hour 30 minutes, it departs back, leaving Toronto at 17:45 and arriving home to Dublin at 05:30.

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Air Canada offers the greatest capacity as it has its Boeing 787-9’s presently assigned to the route, providing the additional benefit of cargo capacity between the two destinations, as well as 30 Business Class seats, 21 Premium Economy seats, and 247 Economy Class seats.  

Departing from Toronto at 20:35 and arriving in Dublin at 07:50, Air Canada has a 3-hour turnaround, resulting in a departure from Dublin at 10:50, arriving in Toronto at 12:45.

Ethiopian deploys a mixture of aircraft on the route, including Boeing 787’s and 777’s.

The timings are less than favorable for a westbound transatlantic departure, with the aircraft transiting in Dublin for 45 minutes before leaving at 05:55 and arriving in Toronto at 08:10.

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Canadian-based aircraft are able to depart at the end of the working day, providing a better overnight timeframe on the journey, and a day flight back across the Atlantic, providing connectivity onto afternoon and evening flights across the domestic and North America network.

Aer Lingus’ flight is firmly focused on network connectivity, with the departure from Dublin allowing connections from the first inbound wave from Europe, alongside the arrival from Toronto arriving to connect through to the first outbound wave to Europe.

AirlineRouteFrequencySeats
Air CanadaTotal308768
YYZDUB154384
DUBYYZ154384
Aer LingusTotal407360
YYZDUB203680
DUBYYZ203680
Ethiopian AirlinesTotal154725
DUBYYZ154725
Source: Cirium

WestJet’s luck of the Irish


This is not the first route that WestJet has operated to Dublin, with an inaugural route operated between St John’s and Dublin commencing in 2014, which was in fact the airlines first transatlantic international flight (WestJet, 2013).

Connectivity also commenced to Toronto with the aircraft flying Toronto – St Johns – Dublin – St Johns – Toronto, operated by a 737-700.

Johnnyw3, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2019 saw the St Johns route dropped in favor of operating to Halifax, facilitating optimized connections with WestJet’s services to central Canada and the Atlantic providences. Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison commented that “Canada has been a really strong market for Dublin Airport in recent years, with excellent business and leisure traffic, and this expansion will help it to grow even further. The additional capacity will generate more tourism visitors for Ireland and further enhance the already strong business and trade links between Ireland and Canada (Dublin Airport, 2018).”

At the time, WestJet had also recently announced it would operate a new three times weekly Calgary-Dublin service for the summer 2019 season.

Due to the proximity and possibility to utilize narrow-body aircraft on routes, six Canadian destinations were served from Dublin in 2019, being Calgary, Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Hamilton, and Halifax.

Ireland and Canada have strong and enduring cultural and business links.

About 14% of Canada’s population is of Irish descent and more than 70 Canadian firms have businesses in Ireland, employing a total of more than 13,000 people (Dublin Airport, 2019).

Vermegrigio, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Statistics for Ireland show that in 2019, 259,491 passengers arrived from Canada and 266,636 passengers departed for Canada, a total of 526,127. This is comparable to the volume of traffic between Ireland and Belgium or Switzerland (Central Statistics Office, 2020).

Canada – Ireland represents a market of 720 passengers each way across the year. However, Q3 to Q4 data represents a decline of over 50% of passengers traveling, demonstrating that the market is fairly seasonally based, focused on the northern hemisphere summer season.

It is therefore unsurprising that WestJet focuses on offering a seasonal operation rather than year-round, however, the flexibility of a Boeing 737-MAX over a widebody such as a Boeing 787 may permit year-round operations.

Overall


Exiting from the pandemic offers renewed opportunities to enter markets.

WestJet has made the decision to re-enter a market that it knows well, but using the high volume gateway that is Toronto provides the greater possibility of origin and destination passengers alongside the opportunity to connect through the WestJet network.

To finish, Vincent Harrison, Managing Director for Dublin Airport, and Eamonn McKee, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada will provide their thoughts on the new route announcement.

“We are delighted to see WestJet’s route network at Dublin Airport expand further with the addition of Toronto – Dublin to complement the existing Halifax and Calgary services. This news is exciting for business and tourism at both ends of the route as it connects Toronto, as the capital of the province of Ontario, with Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. It’s a welcome boost to transatlantic connectivity and great to see another Canadian destination added to our growing Dublin Airport network and to witness the further expansion of WestJet’s operation here in Ireland. We have been working closely with WestJet since 2014 to grow its business and build a substantial base here in Dublin.  This new service between Toronto and Dublin further cements the strong and enduring cultural and business ties between our two great countries.”

– Vincent Harrison, Dublin Airport, Managing Director

“I am delighted to welcome WestJet’s announcement of a new transatlantic route between Toronto and Dublin. The pandemic has imposed incredible hardship on many sectors, none more so than the aviation industry. It is therefore testament to the resilience of everyone involved that WestJet has managed to weather that storm and continue its successful rebuilding process. The pandemic has also imposed hardships on families divided by the Atlantic so this announcement is a very positive development for all those wishing to re-connect with family, friends, and indeed heritage. Since WestJet’s inaugural transatlantic flight in 2014 from St John’s to Dublin, we have seen and welcomed the expansion of connections to Ireland through the Halifax-Dublin and Calgary-Dublin routes in 2019. The pandemic may have stalled that progress but this Toronto–Dublin connection will continue the success of those earlier routes, offering greater choice to Irish and Canadian travelers in the process. I am therefore delighted to welcome this latest Westjet connection to Ireland, and have no doubt that the strong ties which bind so many people between Canada and Ireland will ensure its success for many years to come.”

– Eamonn McKee, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada (WestJet, 2021)

References

  • WestJet. (2021), WestJet launches new service between Toronto and Dublin, WestJet, https://westjet.mediaroom.com/2021-10-05-WestJet-launching-new-service-between-Toronto-and-Dublin [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]
  • Great Circle Mapper. (2021), Distance, Great Circle Mapper, http://www.gcmap.com/dist?P=YYZ-DUB&DU=nm&DM=&SG=&SU=mph [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]
  • WestJet. (2013), Céad míle fáilte! WestJet welcomes Dublin to our network, WestJet, https://westjet.mediaroom.com/news-releases?item=828 [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]
  • Dublin Airport. (2018), WestJet to Increase Capacity to Dublin Airport by 27%, Dublin Airport, https://www.dublinairport.com/latest-news/2019/05/31/westjet-to-increase-capacity-to-dublin-airport-by-27- [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]
  • Dublin Airport. (2019), WestJet Launches New Dublin-Calgary Service, Dublin Airport, https://www.dublinairport.com/latest-news/2019/06/25/westjet-launches-new-dublin-calgary-service [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]
  • Central Statistics Office. (2020), Number of Passengers Classified by Country of Flight Stage Origin and Destination Handled by Main Airports, Central Statistics Office, https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/as/aviationstatisticsquarter4andyear2019/ [Last Accessed 05th October 2021]

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James Yardley

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