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WestJet Turns 25: A Look Back Over the Years at YVR

On a leap day in 1996 a new airline partner—WestJet—landed at YVR for the first time. Fast forward 25 years, WestJet has become a long-standing partner at YVR, introducing new routes and services, growing their fleet offering and providing WestJet guests with the airline’s award-winning customer experience.

And while we can’t celebrate in person this year, we thought we would take a look back at some key milestones of WestJet’s 25 years at YVR.

Partners Since the Start

Vancouver was among WestJet’s five original destinations when it launched service on February 29, 1996. Since then, 67 million WestJet guests have travelled through YVR. Pretty cool.

A New Home at YVR

In 2015, YVR celebrated the opening of the expanded Domestic Terminal, the A-B Connector, home to many of WestJet’s domestic flights. Featuring new gate capacity, an expedited baggage system and a wide range of new dining and shopping options, the A-B Connector was introduced to keep YVR connected to destinations across Canada.


Introducing New Routes & Services

Over the years, WestJet’s network out of YVR has included some of our favourite destinations from Huatulco, Mexico and Lihue, Hawaii to destinations in our own backyard with Nanaimo, Comox and Terrace. And of course, we can’t forget Disneyland. When WestJet announced service to Orlando International Airport it was Vancouver’s only service to Florida and WestJet’s first ever service to Orlando. Disney devotees and Caribbean cruisers were big fans of the new route.

In 2016, we also celebrated the inaugural flight of WestJet’s first non-stop service to Europe from YVR—London Gatwick. The inaugural event included a ribbon cutting, a model aircraft presentation and a London-themed cake.

Plane Spotting Favourites

WestJet’s fleet has come a long way since first being introduced with three B737-200. In 2013, WestJet introduced Encore and we were one of the first airports to welcome service on the Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop.

And for our Disney fans, we can’t forget when the Magic Plane, custom painted with a Walt Disney World Resort theme, and the Disney Frozen-themed plane were spotted at YVR. We still see them at YVR from time to time!

Fast forward to recent times, October 2020 marked a special milestone for our long-standing partner, whose newest aircraft—the 787 Dreamliner—touched down at YVR for the very first time. To celebrate the occasion, our Musqueam friends provided a special welcome as the aircraft landed and made its way to the terminal. The video can be viewed here.

It Takes a Team

Recently, we’ve experienced times like no other. As the initial impacts of COVID-19 grounded our industry to a halt, a number of WestJet aircraft were parked on the runway threshold at YVR. While it served as stark reminder of the impacts of COVID-19 for our industry, it also spoke to the adaptability and resilience we displayed in the face of a monumental challenge as we rallied together to support one another.

In the spirit of collaboration, YVR and WestJet launched the WestJet-YVR COVID-19 Testing Study together with UBC and Providence Health Care. This was the first study of its kind in Canada to investigate a method of COVID-19 rapid antigen testing to help inform the safest and most efficient way of testing departing passengers at YVR.

So, here’s to you WestJet. From all of us at YVR, happy 25th anniversary!

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