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WestJet Airlines Ltd. ( ) is a Canadianmarker low-cost carrier based in Calgarymarker, Albertamarker that flies within Canada and to the United Statesmarker, Mexicomarker and the Caribbeanmarker. WestJet is the second largest Canadian carrier behind Air Canada. WestJet is a rarity in the airline industry in that it is non-unionized. Profit-sharing is credited for this fact. WestJet plans to be one of the world's top five most profitable international airlines, by 2016.

WestJet is a public company with over 7,500 employees and 1.2 billion USD market capitalization.


Founded on February 29, 1996 by Clive Beddoe, David Neeleman, Mark Hill, Tim Morgan and Donald Bell, WestJet aimed to follow the same path as Southwest Airlinesmarker and Morris Air, as a low-cost carrier. The airline was originally intended to operate solely in western Canada, hence its name.

First Flights

On February 29, 1996, the first WestJet flight (a Boeing 737) departed. At that time, the airline served Calgarymarker (the airline's home city and headquarters), Edmontonmarker, Kelownamarker, Vancouvermarker, and Winnipegmarker with a fleet of three Boeing 737-200 aircraft and two-hundred and twenty employees. By the end of that same year, they had included Reginamarker, Saskatoonmarker, and Victoriamarker. In 1997, service to Abbotsfordmarker was added. 1997 also marked the one millionth passenger carried by the airline.

In early 1999, Beddoe stepped down as WestJet's CEO and was replaced by former Air Ontario executive Steve Smith. In July 1999, WestJet made its initial public offering of stock at 1.5 million shares, opening at $10 per share. The same year, the cities of Thunder Baymarker, Grande Prairiemarker, and Prince Georgemarker were added to WestJet's route map.


In 2000, WestJet CEO Steve Smith was released from WestJet after 18 months in the position, apparently due to differences about management style; Smith went on to head rival Air Canada's low-cost subsidiary Zip. After Smith's departure, Clive Beddoe again became CEO of the company, a position he held until July 2007.

Due to restructuring in the Canadian airline industry resulting from the takeover of Canadian Airlines by Air Canada the same year, WestJet expanded into eastern Canadamarker, starting service to the cities of Hamiltonmarker and Ottawamarker, both in Ontario, as well as Moncton, New Brunswickmarker. The airline selected Hamilton to be the focus of the airline's eastern Canadian operations and its main connection point in eastern Canada.

In 2001, expansion continued to include Fort McMurraymarker and Comoxmarker. WestJet also added Sault Ste.marker Mariemarker, Sudburymarker, Thompsonmarker and Brandonmarker, although service to these four cities was subsequently withdrawn. In 2002, the airline added two new eastern Canadian destinations: the cities of Londonmarker and Torontomarker. In April 2003, WestJet added Windsormarker, Montrealmarker, Halifaxmarker, St. John'smarker, and Gandermarker.

WestJet entered into a two-year agreement with Air Transat in August 2003 whereby WestJet 737 aircraft would be filled by Transat's two main tour operators, World of Vacations and Air Transat Holidays. The planes were operated by WestJet crews. The agreement between WestJet and Air Transat was amicably terminated in February, 2009.

Legal troubles

In 2004, the airline was accused by rival Air Canada of espionage, specifically accessing Air Canada confidential information via a private website in order to gain a business advantage, and sued in Ontario Superior Court. On May 29, 2006, the two companies issued a joint press release, with WestJet admitting to the charges leveled by Air Canada. WestJet agreed to pay $5.5 million dollars in legal and investigation fees to Air Canada, and to donate $10 million to various children's charities in the name of Air Canada and WestJet.

Expansion to the US, Caribbean and Mexico

In January 2004, WestJet announced that it was moving the focus of its eastern operation from Hamilton to Toronto the following April, fully moving into the lucrative Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal triangle and tripling the total number of its flights out of Toronto Pearson International Airport.

In 2004, a number of U.S.marker destinations were added or announced. These included San Franciscomarker, Los Angelesmarker, Phoenixmarker, Tampamarker, Fort Lauderdalemarker, Orlandomarker, and New York Citymarker.

Palm Springsmarker was added in early 2005 to the company's list of destinations, as was San Diegomarker, while New York-LaGuardiamarker was dropped. In April 2005, they announced new seasonal service to Charlottetownmarker but ceased service to Gander. In June 2005, the airline announced it was ceasing service to Windsor, effective October 30, 2005, shifting capacity to nearby London. In fall 2005, Ft.marker Myersmarker and Las Vegasmarker were added to the growing list of destinations.

After rumours and speculation surrounding the implementation of extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS), WestJet announced new service to the Hawaiian Islandsmarker from Vancouver on September 20, 2005. In December 2005, the airline began flying from Vancouver to Honolulumarker and Mauimarker.

In 2006, WestJet announced that it was dropping its service to San Francisco and San Diego. WestJet's first scheduled service outside Canada and the United States began in 2006 with service to Nassau, Bahamasmarker. This was considered a huge milestone within the company's long-term destination strategy and was a vital goal for future international market presence.

In September 2006, Sean Durfy took over as President of WestJet from founder Clive Beddoe.

On October 26, 2006, WestJet announced that it had its best quarterly profit to date, of C$52.8 million.

Continued growth

WestJet's new head office building in Calgary
In 2007, WestJet announced that they would begin flights from Deer Lake Regional Airportmarker in Newfoundland, Saint Johnmarker in New Brunswick, and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario. In June 2007, WestJet added seven new international seasonal flights to Saint Luciamarker, Jamaicamarker, the Dominican Republicmarker, Mexicomarker as well as a third Hawaiian destination; Kona.

The same year, WestJet commissioned the construction of a new six-storey head office building, next to their existing hangar facility at the Calgary International Airport. The building was constructed following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, featuring a rainwater retention system and geothermal heating. The first employees moved in during the first quarter of 2009, and the building officially opened the following May.

In May 2008, WestJet launched daily non-stop service to Quebec City. The next month, WestJet commenced seasonal service between Calgarymarker and New York Citymarker via Newark Liberty International Airportmarker. In May 2009, the airline launched new seasonal service to the cities of Yellowknifemarker, Northwest Territoriesmarker and Sydney, Nova Scotiamarker. In June 2009, service was relaunched to San Diego and San Francisco.

In the past ten years, WestJet has made significant gains in domestic market share against Air Canada. In 2000 it held only 7% to Air Canada's 77%, though by 2009 WestJet has risen to 36%, against Air Canada's 57%.

In late April 2009, WestJet announced temporary suspensions of service to several of its Mexico destinations due to the outbreak of influenza A in the country, effective in early May the same year.

In July 2009, WestJet announced 11 new destinations; Atlantic City, Kauai, Miami, Providenciales, St. Maarten, Varadero, Holguin, Cayo Coco, Ixtapa, Cozumel and Freeport.


Agreements with KLM and Air France for travel to Europe are set to come into effect in 2009. KLM currently has service to four Canadian cities (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver), while Air France has service to two (Montreal and Toronto).

In 2010, WestJet plans to implement its extensive codeshare agreement with Southwest Airlinesmarker, allowing for expanded travel within the United States.

WestJet will also introduce their own frequent flyer program, called Westjet Dollars, with the Royal Bank of Canada and Mastercard in the winter of 2009, to better compete with Air Canada.


WestJet currently flies to 66 destinations throughout North America, including 30 cities in Canada and 17 in the United States.

WestJet's largest focus city, in terms of daily departures, is its home base at Calgary International Airportmarker, with Toronto Pearson International Airportmarker being the airline's second-largest focus city, and main connection point in eastern Canada. The airline also has a strong presence at Edmonton International Airportmarker, Vancouver International Airportmarker and Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airportmarker.

WestJet also serves 13 destinations in the Caribbean and six in Mexico, some on a seasonal basis.

New routes

New WestJet Routes
Route Start Date
Regina Cancun December 6
Regina Mazatlan December 7
Toronto Cancun December 7
Winnipeg Cancun December 7
Regina Puerto Vallarta December 8
Vancouver Puerto Vallarta December 8
Montreal Cancun December 9
Regina Cabo San Lucas December 9
Saskatoon Mazatlan December 10
Toronto Cozumel December 10
Saskatoon Puerto Vallarta December 11
Kelowna Cancun December 12
Saskatoon Cancun December 12
Victoria Cancun December 12
Vancouver Lihue/Kauai December 16
Montreal Las Vegas December 17
Moncton Cancun January 9
Vancouver Los Angeles January 10
Vancouver Phoenix January 17
Edmonton Maui March 5
Calgary Maui March 6
Calgary Honolulu March 7

Code-sharing agreements

In 1999, WestJet was in talks regarding a possible 'feeder' arrangement for Air Canada's network. These talks were apparently discontinued when Air Canada went forward with acquisition of Canadian Airlines the following year.

In August 2006, in a Globe and Mail interview, Sean Durfy stated that WestJet was in talks with Oneworld, a code and route sharing alliance that includes many large worldwide airlines including British Airways and American Airlines. Durfy said that, if a deal with Oneworld were reached, it would allow WestJet to maintain its scheduling flexibility; Durfy was later quoted in 2007 saying that a deal for WestJet to join the Oneworld alliance was unlikely. Despite this, WestJet did formalize a deal with Oneworld in November 2008, to partner on sales of travel to corporate and business travelers. In the press release announcing the agreement, WestJet and Oneworld stressed that the airline was not joining the alliance.

In 2007, WestJet began a limited interline agreement with Taiwan-based China Airlines, in part to test the company's capability to partner with other carriers. In 2008, WestJet announced partnerships and code-sharing agreements with Air France, KLM, Mokulele Airlines, and Southwest Airlinesmarker.

In 2009 WestJet announced it was in talks with 70 airlines around the world interested in a code-sharing agreement. An expanded agreement with China Airlines is expected to be announced next, followed by British Airways and Cathay Pacific.


The WestJet fleet consists of the following aircraft:
WestJet Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Notes
Boeing 737-600 13 119 PTVs and leather seats
Boeing 737-700 58 136 PTVs and leather seats, Winglets
Boeing 737-800 10 166 PTVs and leather seats, Winglets
The airline flies a fleet that consists exclusively of Boeing 737s, taking a cue from the successful single operating type model pioneered by Southwest Airlinesmarker. The first Boeing 737-700 delivery took place in 2001, and the first deliveries of Boeing 737-600 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft began in 2005, with the final Boeing 737-600 aircraft delivered in September 2006. WestJet's future aircraft orders only consist of Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800 models. WestJet plans to have a fleet of 111 aircraft by the end of 2013.

Boeing confirmed on August 2, 2007 that WestJet had placed an order for 20 Boeing 737NG. The order is primarily for Boeing 737-700 but with conversion rights to Boeing 737-800s.

WestJet was to be the Boeing launch customer for the Boeing 737-600winglets, but announced in their Q2 2006 results that they were not going to move ahead with those plans. WestJet CEO Clive Beddoe cited the cost and time associated with their installation was not warranted as they are primarily used for short-haul routes. As a result of the abandonment of the program to install winglets on these aircraft, WestJet incurred a one-time charge of approximately $609,000.

Retired fleet

It was announced early in 2005 that the 737-200 fleet would be retired within the year, to be replaced by newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. On July 12, 2005, WestJet announced that it had completed the sale of its remaining Boeing 737-200 to Miami-based Apollo Aviation Group (Apollo).

On January 9, 2006, the last Boeing 737-200 (Tail 748 C-FCWJ) was flown during a fly-by ceremony at the WestJet hangar in Calgary. (See External Links). The aircraft was flown by Don Bell. The last commercial revenue flight by a -200 was a charter flight, Las Vegas to Calgary, arriving at 0130 January 9, 2006, flown by tail 741 (C-GWWJ).

In 2003, WestJet donated a 737-200 to the British Columbia Institute of Technologymarker (BCIT). Currently it is located in the BCIT Aerospace Campus beside the Vancouver International Airport.

In-flight service

An example of Westjet's in-flight entertainment system.
In 2005, WestJet introduced in-flight entertainment from LiveTV on board its 737-700 and -800 fleet. The system utilizes the Bell TV satellite network, and channels include Global TV, CTV, CBS, Citytv, Treehouse TV, ABC, NBC, CBC, TSN and a WestJet Channel, which shows a regional map with the aircraft's location, GPS derived altitude, and groundspeed. WestJet added LiveTV onto their 737-600 aircraft beginning in the 2007/2008 Winter season; every aircraft in their fleet is now equipped with the system.

WestJet includes a buy on board meal service program with sandwiches, alcoholic beverages, and some snacks for purchase. In some markets, the sandwiches offered onboard are made by local delis in the departure city (such as the Bread Garden in Vancouver, Spolumbo's in Calgary, and DiRienzo's in Ottawa). Some snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available for free.

WestJet is famous for its fun and friendly staff and light-hearted attitude. In past years on April 1, WestJet issued 'joke' press releases as part of April Fool's Day - an example being the introduction of 'sleeper cabins' in overhead bins.


The WestJet planes are mostly white, except for the lettering on the cabins, the tail, and the metallic wings and vertical stabilizers (tailfins).

The tail is divided into rough and slanted thirds, coloured (from back to front) navy blue, white, and teal. This pattern is used on the outside of the blended winglets at the end of the wings, while on the inside, the winglets are painted white with the words in black lettering.

WestJet Lounges

Beginning in 2006, WestJet began opening lounges in select Canadian airports. Many are operated by Servisair.

Incidents and accidents

  • On September 6, 2007, a WestJet Boeing 737-700 aircraft en route to Halifax from Calgary encountered sudden turbulence just north of Sudbury, Ontariomarker, causing a sharp drop which injured 9 passengers. The plane carried on to Halifax and landed without incident.
  • On February 17, 2008, a WestJet Boeing 737-700 aircraft over-ran runway 07 at Ottawa (YOW) and slid into a snowbank. No injuries were reported and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the cause.

Awards and recognitions

  • In 2000, Clive Beddoe, Mark Hill, Tim Morgan and Donald Bell were given the Ernst & Young company's Entrepreneur of the Year award in Canada for their contribution to the Canadian airline industry.
  • In 2005, 2006 and 2007, WestJet was named Canada's Most Admired Corporate Culture by Waterstone Human Capital in its annual survey of senior executives of Canada's largest companies.
  • In October 2008, WestJet was named one of Alberta's Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal.
  • A 2009 poll by L├ęger Marketing found that WestJet is Canada's preferred airline.


Image:Westjetpsp.JPG|Boeing 737-700 at Palm SpringsImage:Westjetykf.JPG|Boeing 737-700 at Kitchener/WaterlooImage:Westjet737 700atYQR.jpg|Boeing 737-700 arriving at Regina International Airportmarker


External links

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