WestJet looks at regional launch

WestJet has confirmed that it’s considering the launch of a new short-haul, regional airline as early as 2013 using a fleet of approximately 40 smaller, turboprop aircraft. Gregg Saretsky, the carrier’s president and CEO, said the company was meeting with its staff this month “to get their input on this watershed decision.” “One of the cornerstones of our success is engaging with employees early on in key decisions and I am confident they will see the strategic value of this initiative. Once our employees have had the opportunity to share their input, we will be in a better position to make a sound decision rooted in employee feedback and engagement,” Saretsky said. He continued, “As we’ve said on many occasions before, we have regularly evaluated this strategy. A short-haul aircraft combined with WestJet’s brand, balance sheet strength and low-cost structure will allow WestJet to profitably accomplish four main goals: Introduce WestJet’s friendly and caring service to many smaller communities who have asked for our service; optimize the size of aircraft to efficiently increase frequency; create new connections between existing WestJet markets; and build additional feed to our current 71-city network so that we can continue to profitably grow and add shareholder value.” WestJet’s chairman and principal founder, Clive Beddoe commented, “I am excited at the prospect of repeating the entrepreneurial success of WestJet’s beginnings. This new airline, powered by our low-cost model and strong corporate culture would greatly benefit the guests we serve, their communities and our shareholders. Our single fleet of Boeings will be joined by a sister company operating a single fleet of turboprops to maintain maximum efficiencies for both airlines.” As Saretsky sees it, “this would be the natural evolution of our airline.” “We have built a powerful brand that has been embraced by the travelling public from the start. Our goal now is to provide more Canadians with more access to lower fares and our friendly and caring guest experience,” he stated.