Transaction signals bright future for WestJet Group’s ambitious growth strategy and creates new opportunities for leisure and sun travel across Canada
WestJet Group and Sunwing to maintain independent operations, while working collaboratively to combine complementary strategies for a gradual and effective transition
The WestJet Group today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines. The transaction, originally announced in March 2022, combines the two Canadian aviation and leisure travel success stories, and will bring greater choice, competitive airfares and increased direct access to sun destinations to Canadian travellers. In addition, it positions Sunwing to continue its growth across Canada and permits the newly merged company to protect jobs.
Initially, the airlines will continue independent operations, maintaining a sharp focus on providing an exceptional guest experience and ensuring safe operations. As the two entities transition from competitors to collaborators, the combination of these businesses will be planned in a way that positions Sunwing as an instrumental pillar of the WestJet Group, and prioritizes the experience of a growing number of guests.
“As we have set out on our new strategic trajectory for the WestJet Group, investing further in leisure and sun flying across Canada is a critical driver for growth,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, Chief Executive Officer of the WestJet Group. “It brings me great pleasure to welcome Sunwing to the group, adding 18 Boeing 737s, 2,000 employees and Canada’s largest vacation tour operator and significantly expanding our footprint in Eastern Canada. Together, we will strategically enhance our sun and leisure offerings to bring even more affordable and accessible travel opportunities to Canadians.”
Stephen Hunter, formerly the CEO of Sunwing Vacations, has been appointed CEO of the WestJet Group’s Vacations Business, responsible for all tour operating and vacation package businesses of both the Sunwing Vacations and WestJet Vacations brands.
“The combination of our complementary businesses marks an important milestone that will enable us to fast-track our growth plans and provide Canadians with more affordable vacations to more destinations than ever before,” said Stephen Hunter, CEO of the WestJet Group’s Vacations Business. “I am thrilled to join forces with WestJet and, in doing so, create even more opportunities for our people and deliver greater value for Canadian travellers.”
As previously announced, the WestJet Group’s newly combined tour operator businesses, comprised of WestJet Vacations and Sunwing Vacations, will be headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and will continue to operate a Montreal office. In the coming years, the Vacations Business expects to facilitate new flying and new employment opportunities by retaining Sunwing’s aircraft in Canada year-round, among other sources of anticipated growth.
“We are excited to welcome Sunwing’s employees to the WestJet Group of Companies; throughout the planning of this transaction, we have been continually impressed by their expertise and experience in the vacations industry,” concluded von Hoensbroech.” We look forward to working alongside them to deliver memorable services to an expanding number of Canadians.”
In 27 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 110 destinations in 24 countries.
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The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.
SOURCE WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership