WestJet Group Boss Calls For Shared Accountability

WestJet Group Chief Executive Officer, Alexis von Hoensbroech was in Ottawa this week to meet with key government officials and parliamentarians to provide them with an update on the airline’s summer performance.

Along with record-setting demand, that surpassed pre-pandemic levels, the WestJet Group maintained stable operations, delivering upon its commitment to meaningful improvements.

Alexis von Hoensbroech WestJet Group, Chief Executive Officer, observed that: “Following the pandemic, as travel demand returned in full force, the aviation industry faced immense challenges and WestJet was not immune. We responded to these hurdles with a commitment to do better, investing in our guests, our people and technology across all touchpoints of the travel journey, to safeguard travel plans and enhance our operational resiliency.”

He continued: “This summer we’ve demonstrated that we have collectively improved and are taking major strides to rebuild trust among our guests through our operational performance.”

WestJet also demonstrated significant progress in delivering a reliable guest experience this summer, improving its on-time performance by seven per cent, baggage handling performance by 54.2% and hiring over 2000 employees across Canada in 2023, to further support its operation.

WestJet Group’s boss also addressed the growing consensus and concern amongst industry stakeholders surrounding the proposed Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) reforms, emphasizing the need for shared accountability.

He also spoke about the need to resolve the Canadian Transport Agency’s (CTA) complaint backlog, as currently thousands of cases await a final decision by the federal regulator, with many WestJet guests waiting over 18 months for a response. Conversely, WestJet is required to respond to all APPR claims within 30 days.

Said von Hoensbroech: “We’ve heard from our guests that there are too many loopholes under the current Air Passenger Protection Regulations and we agree. Currently, airlines are the only service provider within the air travel ecosystem that are held accountable to their failures. This results in confusion and frustration for our guests when their travel doesn’t go as planned as a result of missteps by any other service provider within the aviation industry.”

In order to improve travel across Canada, von Hoensbroech is recommending the following policy priorities for parliamentarians to consider:

  • Strengthen and amend Bill C52 to ensure any entity whose operations result in delays and cancels have clear performance metrics, communication and equal compensation requirements to that of airlines.
  • Review and address the growing consensus that APPR reforms, if realized, would: Contradict Canada’s aviation safety culture; Negatively impact regional connectivity and air fares in Canada; and Diminish progress made across Canada’s recovering and now stable aviation industry.
  • Clear the complaint backlog at the CTA by imposing an equal service standard to that of airlines, which requires airlines to provide a response within 30 days, to ensure guests do not wait 18 months for resolution.

Said von Hoensbroech: “We accept and remain accountable to compensating our guests when we are at fault for impacting their travel journey, however, to ensure meaningful improvements for our guests, APPR must provide a shared accountability framework and a service standard that results in the timely resolution of all complaints.”

Emerging from a record setting summer, the WestJet Group is only gaining momentum as it executes upon its new strategy to affordably increase Canada’s connectivity from coast-to-coast and cement its position as the country’s leading leisure airline.

With the integration of Swoop, the WestJet Group’s ultra-low-cost-carrier concluding its integration into WestJet as of Oct. 28, and the further integration of Sunwing Airlines, the Group’s expanding scale will significantly enhance its ability to provide affordability and choice to its guests, while bolstering its ability to provide meaningful career opportunities.

By leveraging the ultra-low fare products pioneered by Swoop and affordable vacation packages offered by Sunwing Vacations, the WestJet Group will harness a newfound ability to provide ultra-affordable fares and increased affordable vacation packages across Canada through the entirety of its growing fleet.

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