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WestJet Service To Europe A Go, Airline Selects Ireland As First Location

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CALGARY - WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA) will begin flying to the Emerald Isle next summer — the airline's first transatlantic flights.

The airline says it will offer daily flights from Toronto, Ottawa and St. John's, N.L., to Dublin, Ireland from June 15 to Oct. 5.

It will also have daily connections between Dublin to several other cities, including Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

"WestJet's innovative foray into the European market represents a willingness to do what it takes to connect Canadians to the world while bringing the world to Canada," said Chris Avery, WestJet's vice-president of network planning, alliances and corporate development.

"From Dublin, guests can access low-cost flights to more than 100 cities in Europe."

The new international flights follow WestJet's launch earlier this year of a regional airline. WestJet Encore started in June and now flies 42 flights a day to 12 destinations.

WestJet has also been trying to lure business flyers away from Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) with premium seating options and increased flexibility to change travel plans.

Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman said although Dublin may seem like an exciting first step, adding more transatlantic destinations is likely still years away for WestJet.

"We suggest investors curb any enthusiasm," he wrote in a note. "Enthusiasm is understandable, as global long-haul flying is WJA's last major unexploited market, and it is huge... (But) to truly go global, WJA will need a long-haul aircraft."

Tyerman maintained his buy rating on the stock, with a target of $31 per share. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, WestJet shares were up six cents to $27.37.

WestJet currently flies to destinations across North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

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