Alberta’s economy is growing back stronger than ever following several difficult years. By working with WestJet and the broader aviation industry, Alberta’s government is maintaining its focus on the provincial economy to the tune of more than 1,000 direct jobs in Alberta, tens of thousands of other new jobs and billions in new economic activity.

“This is a blockbuster day for Alberta and a game-changer for our economy. Diversification and economic development are happening right here in Alberta. By choosing Calgary as its single global hub, locating its entire Dreamliner fleet here and increasing its annual seat capacity by 80 per cent, WestJet will massively improve global connectivity, tourism and options for passengers.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Alberta has been WestJet’s home for 26 years and this historic agreement builds upon an existing foundation of low taxes and investment-friendly policies. As Western Canada’s home team carrier, Alberta is an area where we want to continue to invest to secure WestJet’s thriving future. Through the pandemic and onward, the Government of Alberta prioritized the importance and advancement of aviation and the visitor economy across the province and recognized that aviation is central to the economic diversification of Alberta.”

Alexis von Hoensbroech, chief executive officer, WestJet Group

Working together to improve industry competitiveness

As part of the agreement, the province will help address the skilled labour shortage faced by the aviation industry by providing Mount Royal University with $7.1 million in capital and a total of $1.06 million in operating funding. The new operating funding will allow Mount Royal University to add an additional 40 seats in its popular aviation diploma program to help meet the known labour market demand for pilots. The government will also expand bursary and student loan programs for in-demand aviation occupations, including pilots and aviation maintenance personnel.

Working with the industry, the government will build an aviation centre of excellence to accelerate pilot training. Funding for the centre is subject to project approval.

Alberta will also explore the creation of an advanced commercial aviation training program at one or more of its post-secondary institutions.

To assist a tourism sector still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province will increase marketing funding for Travel Alberta to $10 million annually over five years, up from $6.5 million. This funding will be available to Alberta-based carriers and will prioritize operations from new international and intercontinental markets, including Asian markets, improving access for visitors to Alberta. 

To support training for new jobs that will be created as a result of this agreement, the government will fund a labour market training program of $5 million annually over three years to offset training costs in this sector. As the aviation and aerospace sector grows, Alberta’s government will look for more opportunities to grow investment in the space.

“Alberta is a great place to do business. When it comes to aviation, Alberta is a critical hub for North America, well positioned to serve the world’s largest markets. Opportunities in our province are increasing. Our economy is growing, it is diversifying and it is gaining momentum. This is the future of Alberta. This is the future for Albertans.”

Tanya Fir, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

In return for the government’s investment, WestJet will create a hub at the Calgary International Airport (YYC) by stationing 100 aircraft there, an increase from 60. It will also base its fleet of seven 787-9 Dreamliners at the YYC hub. At the same time, the company will continue to operate efficient aircraft to continue offering low fares to flyers.

WestJet also plans to build a single global connecting hub at YYC to enable more new destinations and frequencies to existing markets and launch multiple new long-haul international routes.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s aviation, aerospace and logistics industries employ more than 75,000 people. (2021, Statistics Canada)

  • WestJet Airlines is headquartered in Calgary and is the second-largest Canadian airline.

  • The company operates almost 800 flights carrying almost 70,000 passengers per day.

  • Calgary’s international airport handled 269 daily flights to 88 non-stop destinations, carrying 18 million total passengers. (2019)

  • The Edmonton International Airport transported 8.15 million passengers to 55 destinations.  (2019)

  • The Edmonton International Airport is the largest in the country by area.

  • Calgary’s international airport is the fifth-leading cargo airport in the country, while Edmonton’s ranks eighth. Calgary’s International Airport is one of the fastest-growing cargo airports in Canada. More than 75 per cent of all Alberta’s air cargo shipments are transported through Calgary, which provides access to the United States.

  • Alberta companies provide maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification of military and commercial aircraft.

  • Alberta is already home to 420 of Canada’s registered business aviation aircraft.