WestJet Airlines Considering High-Stakes Expansion Into Int'l Arena

TORONTO (CP) -- WestJet Airlines is considering a high-stakes expansion into the international arena that could take the discount carrier to Hawaii and London, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

The airline already is working closely with Transport Canada to gain approval for so-called extended-range, twin-engine, over-water operations, chairman Clive Beddoe said in an interview with the Globe.

But he emphasized that WestJet's possible entry into the international market is in the early stages of study and discussions are just theoretical.

If Transport Canada approves the plan, WestJet could be in a position to take a closer look at the pros and cons of flying overseas by September.

The carrier already flies to nine U.S. cities and numerous sun destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean on behalf of charter tour operators.

Meanwhile, Air Canada is threatening to stop flying to Prince Edward Island after the province coaxed summer service from WestJet by guaranteeing ticket sales and free advertising, the National Post reported Wednesday.

In a letter to P.E.I. Premier Patrick Binns, Air Canada said financial incentives offered to WestJet total nearly $500,000 and amount to a government subsidy.

Air Canada said it was cancelling plans to expand service to Charlottetown this summer and will consider a review of its service to the province.

P.E.I. made the deal with WestJet in its bid to increase tourism to the province.