Canada is set to gain a major ultra-low cost-competitor (ULCC) later this year if WestJet’s plans go according to schedule. Pending an agreement with its pilots and any required regulatory approvals, WestJet says it will expand its business model by dedicating a fleet of Boeing 737-800s to providing “Canadians with no-frills, lower-cost travel options.” Routes, schedules and fares are not yet available.
“It's all about disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market," says WestJet co-founder and board of directors chair, Clive Beddoe, adding, "Launching a ULCC will broaden WestJet's growth opportunities and open new market segments by offering more choice to those Canadians looking for lower fares."
"The worldview on low-cost airlines has changed since the launch of WestJet in 1996 and we are responding," commented Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO. "The complete unbundling of services and products in order to lower fares for the price-sensitive traveller has created the ULCC category and our new airline will provide Canadians a pro-competitive, cheap and cheerful flying experience from a company with a proven track record."
The move is a continuation of the evolution of WestJet, which was launched in 1996 as a low-cost alternative for Canadians and has since significantly expanded its fleet; added the regional carrier, Encore; introduced airline partnerships, premium economy seats, rewards program and dedicated credit card; and continues to expand service to Europe.