WestJet appoints new CEO after Saretsky leaves
Canadian low cost carrier WestJet announced on March 8, 2018, that Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO of the company is retiring, effective immediately. The Canadian airline appointed Ed Sims to replace Saretsky. The change comes as WestJet is preparing to launch its new ultra-low-cost airline Swoop in July 2018.
Saretsky joined WestJet in June 2009 and moved up the ladder to become President and CEO in March 2010. Praised by the company for leading its “most significant growth period”, Saretsky was the head of the company for seven years, in which the airline “nearly” doubled its fleet, introduced wide-body aircraft and first code-share partnerships, began service to Europe and launched programs like WestJet Encore, WestJet Rewards and WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard.
"For the past eight years, it's been my privilege to lead team WestJet through a tremendous period of growth and success," Saretsky is quoted in a statement. "I am pleased with the continued growth and profitability we've achieved together. With plans well underway for the launch of Swoop and the introduction of the 787-9 Dreamliners on the horizon, as well as the great work WestJetters do each day, I'm confident WestJet will continue to grow to the next chapter and beyond."
However, Saretsky was less successful when it comes to employee relations. WestJet is having unresolved bargaining issues with its pilot union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) - a problem further aggravated by the upcoming launch of Swoop in July 2018. The severity of the conflict can be illustrated by the fact that at one point, ALPA has even called for pilots to impose a “recruitment ban” on Swoop, Financial Post reports.
Now, Saretsky is replaced by Ed Sims, previously the company’s Executive Vice-President Commercial. "I am honored by the opportunity to assume the role of President and CEO, and believe strongly in WestJet's next global chapter and the growth potential ahead," Sims is quoted in the statement. "In my time at WestJet, I've been inspired by the team's ability to care from the heart while acting like owners. WestJet has a strong challenger's spirit, and I'm thrilled to be able to lead the team onward. I thank Gregg for his leadership, and for setting the foundation for WestJet's global evolution."
Sims joined WestJet in May 2017. For the past 30 years he worked in tourism and aviation industries, encompassing airlines and tour operators, as well as air traffic control. He has worked in the European and Australasian markets, holding senior commercial and general leadership positions with TUI, Thomas Cook, Virgin Groups and Air New Zealand where he led the international wide-body business.
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