Progress across key elements of strategic direction: becoming Western Canada’s home team carrier, growing in the East with a focus on leisure travel, and providing affordable airfares as a stronger, more resilient low-cost carrier
WestJet today provided a comprehensive update on the progress it is making against its new strategic direction, which was introduced in June 2022 and is focused on building a strong, resilient low-cost airline that has a clear runway for growth. WestJet Group Chief Executive Officer Alexis von Hoensbroech provided the update as part of a State of the Airline address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
“We are now seeing the benefits of our new strategy coming to life across Canada; it is ambitious, laser-focused on our strengths and brings back more of what Canadians love about WestJet,” said von Hoensbroech. “At WestJet, our proposition is to ‘love where you are going.’ This plan focuses on just that – where we are going as an airline, as an employer, and as a connector of people, businesses and communities across Canada. It will strengthen our airline, ensure our long-term profitability and set us apart from our competitors.”
Key progress against WestJet’s growth plan
In his remarks, von Hoensbroech summarized WestJet’s progress against its growth plan in three key areas: (1) returning WestJet to its roots as Western Canada’s home carrier, (2) growing its leisure and sun destination offering across all of Canada and connecting Canadians with domestic service from coast-to-coast and (3) providing affordable airfares as a low-cost carrier (LCC).
Advancements in these areas, since the plan was first introduced in 2022, include:
Returning to roots as Western Canada’s home carrier
- In partnership with the Government of Alberta, committing significant capacity growth into Calgary to double its offering to more than 20 million annual seats before the end of the decade, including basing all intercontinental Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying in Calgary.
- Significant double-digit capacity growth across most major and mid-sized airports across Western Canada.
- Introducing 20 new routes and three new destinations between Western Canada and the United States, including new non-stop service to Washington, Detroit and Minneapolis, with new routes added to Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Nashville and Seattle.
In advancing its growth plan, WestJet has been working closely with communities and regions across the West to prioritize the flights they need to build their economies.
Expanding sun and leisure flying across Canada and focused growth in Eastern Canada
- Expanding direct flights with a 13 per cent increase in total capacity between Eastern and Western Canada, including new or resumed nonstop routes from:
- Edmonton to London, Moncton, Charlottetown, Ottawa and Montreal;
- Calgary to Thunder Bay, Quebec City and Moncton;
- Vancouver to Halifax, and resumed flights to Montreal; and
- Comox to Toronto;
- Securing all required regulatory approvals for WestJet’s proposed acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations and advancing towards the close of the transaction.
In his address, von Hoensbroech noted, “I want to be clear on this point, we will be growing in the East. Our growth in the East will focus on point-to-point travel to Western Canada, and all elements of leisure travel. WestJet’s position as Eastern Canada’s leisure airline will be further strengthened once the acquisition of Sunwing is concluded.”
Providing affordable airfares as a stronger, more Resilient low-cost carrier
- Ensuring the Boeing 737 remains the backbone of the WestJet fleet, with the largest order book for new Boeing aircraft of any airline in Canada.
- Maintaining one of North America’s youngest, most fuel-efficient fleets; including the future addition of the 737-10, which has one of the lowest costs per seat among mid-range aircraft and lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
- Advancing WestJet’s traditional cost advantage over its main competitors
“We are returning to being the friendly, reliable and affordable airline Canadians love. With this plan, we are focusing on what made WestJet successful when then airline was first introduced to Canada – operating as a stronger, more resilient low-cost carrier delivering a modern experience to our guests at an affordable price,” said von Hoensbroech.
Introduction of an Operational Excellence program
The airline has also introduced an Operational Excellence program that will re-design the experience across all touchpoints of a potential disruption throughout the travel journey, with a focus on digital enhancements, IT infrastructure management and operational resilience.
Key elements of the Operational Excellence program include:
- Improving guest facing capabilities, timely and accurate communications and expanded self-serve tools during disruptions.
- Investing in back-end system development to ensure WestJet employees have the information and tools to keep the company’s operations moving.
- Creating greater schedule resilience that will isolate disruptions and allow for faster recovery during operational challenges of all types.
Additional and ongoing updates on WestJet’s progress against this critical growth strategy are available at https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/who-we-are/our-strategy.