WestJet says it will begin non-stop flights to London direct from Vancouver next spring.
The airline had previously announced plans to offer flights to London’s Gatwick airport but had not revealed departure cities.
Company officials vowed to bring more competition and lower prices for travellers between Canada and the U.K., promising one-way fares will start at $299 out of Vancouver, including taxes and fees.
“Canadians have been paying far too much to fly to Europe for far too long and today, as we have throughout our history, we’re going to fix that,” WestJet executive vice-president Bob Cummings said Tuesday.
Vancouver-London flights will be offered six times a week in the early evenings during peak periods from early May through early October. Its site shows overnight flights departing YVR at 5:50 p.m. and arriving before 11:30 a.m. in the U.K.
Other departure cities are Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and St. John’s, and the company said introductory pricing will offer $20 connecting flights from other select Canadian airports for London-bound passengers.
The company hopes the plentiful air connections out of Gatwick to 200 destinations in 90 other countries will make WestJet an attractive choice for Canadians travelling to Europe or beyond.
WestJet will use its four new wide-body Boeing 767-300 aircraft, with a 262-seat capacity, on the London flights.
Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black said the WestJet decision is “exceptional news” not just for B.C. residents who want to travel abroad, but because of the economic growth and new jobs that will spring up at home as more foreign travellers fly here.
“These flights will bring thousands of international visitors to our region next summer, which will make a sizable impact on our local economy, particularly in the tourism sector,” Black said.
He said it’s estimated every new daily international flight at YVR creates 187 person-years of direct employment in Metro Vancouver.
“The ongoing success of YVR airport is something we should all be proud of, because it lays the runway for economic growth across Greater Vancouver.”