The WestJet Group recently brought together leaders, representing all parts of the operations and business, to hear directly from Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexis von Hoensbroech, as he shared plans for growth into the COVID recovery, and the airline’s commitment to embracing its cost-conscious roots in service of affordable air travel for Canadians.

WestJet Group’s von Hoensbroech said that: “The immediate priority is to ensure we are ready for the high volume of pent-up travel demand this summer. Equally important is charting a path that continues to grow WestJet as the friendly, reliable and affordable airline our guests know and love.”

Since he arrived on Feb. 15, 2022, von Hoensbroech has spent his first 100 days getting to know the airline’s people, guests and network. Joining at a critical inflection point as the WestJet Group emerges from the pandemic, the executive team around von Hoensbroech and WestJet’s board of directors undertook a strategic review to determine the best course for sustained future success for the airline and its people.

He observed that: “WestJet is strong foundationally, having weathered the pandemic as perhaps the world’s only airline of scale that did not accept sector-specific government funding or issue any new equity or debt. We’re now at an exciting and pivotal moment for the industry and our airline.”

And he continued: “As we emerge from the pandemic, the world around us is changing with rising inflation and instability from the war in Ukraine. We are also facing industry-specific challenges, including spiking oil prices and staffing shortages at airports.”

Through the strategic review, the airline looked to historical strengths to secure future success, honing in on a focused network and strategy; an unrelenting cost commitment; and a consistent, superior guest experience.

To build upon the reasons why guests choose WestJet and drive future growth, WestJet will renew its focus on:

* Growth as a low-cost carrier that is friendly, reliable and modern

* Shifting resources to significantly grow its presence and network in the West, fostering its undisputed status as the home-team carrier of Western Canada offering more direct, non-stop flights to communities

* Investing further in leisure and sun flying as a priority across Canada, including through the acquisition of Sunwing, following regulatory approval

* Investing in technology and radical digitalization to improve guest experience and simplify internal processes to ensure meaningful and engaging jobs for its people

* Redoubling efforts to maintain its successful and highly productive low-cost structure and culture, to ensure relentless competitiveness and affordability for guests

To match its commercial strategies, the airline will centre its existing widebody 787 Dreamliner fleet around Western Canada and, for the time being, pause further investment into incremental Dreamliners to focus instead on additional narrowbody growth.

In addition to the more than 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that the airline will receive over the coming years, including 15 in 2022 alone, WestJet is working towards a substantial additional narrow body order.

The airline will maintain its current premium offerings, with a focus on strengthening its premium leisure segment and corporate premium in the West. The focus of WestJet’s regional fleet of De Haviland Q400 aircraft will be shifted and rightsized to focus on Western Canada, removing complexity from operations, and prioritizing the airline’s commitment to enhance Western Canada’s connectivity.

Network changes are complex and will be phased in over an extended period of time. The airline is committed to engaging with communities and stakeholders in these plans. Guests can anticipate seeing changes gradually implemented by summer 2023.

Said von Hoensbroech: “We will deploy our aircraft where they can be of greatest service to Canadians. While we will be investing the majority of our fleet in the West, as a national airline we will maintain a significant presence in the Eastern provinces, primarily through direct connections to our Western cities, while significantly enhancing our network to leisure and sun destinations, including through our acquisition of Sunwing.”

WestJet will also continue to significantly scale other areas of the business that remain critical, namely WestJet Cargo, Loyalty, WestJet Vacations and Swoop. The acquisition of Sunwing will facilitate the scaling of WestJet Vacations and Swoop.

“Swoop is an important part of our strategy with a tremendous cost structure, and we still have plenty of room to grow and bring lower fares to our guests,” added von Hoensbroech. “WestJet and Swoop will run more complementary networks and collectively meet the demand of leisure travellers.”

And von Hoensbroech concluded: “WestJet’s low-cost roots have been the foundation of the historical success of our company. As we realize our ambitious growth plans, we will bring more air service to Canadian communities and connect more people to what matters most, through friendly and affordable air travel.”


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