Westjet talking with Boeing, Airbus on replacement for 767s

TORONTO, Feb 29 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd has started talks with aircraft makers on replacements for its fleet of Boeing 767-300 planes, with delivery of the new planes expected by the end of this decade.

The Calgary-based airline is talking with Boeing Co and Airbus Group on options to replace the 767, an extended range aircraft that will serve Europe starting in May, Chief Executive Officer Gregg Saretsky told Reuters on Monday.

“At some point we will have to replace these 767s with next-generation widebody aircraft and we are talking with both Boeing and Airbus around the possibilities,” said Saretsky, adding the new planes would enter Westjet’s fleet in 2019 or 2020.

Westjet currently has three 767s and expects delivery of a fourth in April, with all four dedicated to non-stop flights to London’s Gatwick airport from five Canadian cities.

The airline is also in the market for more 767s, as it looks to build out its Europe-focused fleet. Westjet offers seasonal flights from Canada to Dublin, Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland.

Saretsky declined to comment on any specific plans to expand into other markets, noting that the 11-hour range of the 767s would allow for direct flights from Canada to cities in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

Westjet, which launched as regional carrier in Calgary, Alberta exactly 20 years ago, now serves markets throughout Canada, the United States and Caribbean.

Shares closed up 5 percent at C$17.85 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Andrew Hay)