London will likely be calling for plenty of vacation seekers next summer, with WestJet officially announcing Tuesday plans to begin non-stop service to the U.K. capital from six Canadian airports in May.
And customers who sign up early will get one heck of a deal.
The Calgary-based airline said it is offering introductory base fares for as little as $199 from St. John’s to London’s Gatwick airport. One-way airfares from Toronto and Winnipeg will start as low as $249 and $279, respectively, WestJet said in a series of news releases.
In total, the carrier will fly from six Canadian airports to London: St. John’s, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. One-way flights – including taxes — to Gatwick from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver are priced at $299, the airline said Tuesday.
“It’s a market that heretofore has had pretty high airfares,” Gregg Saretsky, chief executive of WestJet said in an interview after the announcements. “We’re always attracted to markets that have high airfares because we can come in with our brand of low fares.”
Saretsky said the low airfares were temporary and would be available for a short time. After that, WestJet ticket prices to Gatwick will rise “modestly” the executive said.
“You’ll be able to buy them for at least the next couple of days,” Saretsky said. “But we will still be Canada’s low-fare airline to the U.K., no matter what fare you buy.”
In addition to the low introductory rates, the airline said it would temporarily offer connecting flights from other Canadian cities WestJet flies to for an additional $20 on the ticket price of the flight to London. For example, a person flying from Thunder Bay, Ont. to London via Toronto would pay $269 — the promotional ticket price of $249 from Pearson International to Gatwick plus $20.
Air Canada, which counts its non-stop service to London as a major source of business, isn’t standing idly by as WestJet attempts to muscle in on its turf. The country’s biggest carrier has already announced it will begin offering routes to Gatwick using its lower-cost Rouge service.
Experts suggest the escalating competitive pressures will mean attractive ticket prices for customers at both airlines. “The new routes to London will undoubtedly be very competitive next summer,” National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen said.
WestJet’s non-stop service to Gatwick will commence on May 7, the carrier said.
WestJet plans to use its new Boeing 767s for service at all departing destinations except St. John’s, which will use WestJet’s Boeing 737s.
WATCH: Calgary based WestJet unveiled its first Boeing 767 Wide Body, and analysts say it’s a big win for consumers. Global’s David Boushy reports.