Canada’s low fare airline WestJet Airlines will acquire its low-cost rival Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations, both companies announced in a joint statement on March 2, 2022.
The transaction will see the two Canadian budget airlines merge and create a new business unit called WestJet Group. The new airline will be led by Sunwing’s current CEO Stephen Hunter. Sunwing’s current shareholders will become equity holders in the new business venture.
The merged airline is expected to deliver new travel options, add increased capacity, “dedicating otherwise seasonal aircraft to operate year-round in Canada, instead of Sunwing supplementing seasonal demand with imported aircraft”, according to the statement.
Both companies anticipate transaction to be completed in 2022. However, it is still subject to Canadian regulatory approval
The new venture will see its fleet expand to 130 aircraft. Currently, WestJet Airlines operates a total of 102 jets, including 96 Boeing 737s and six Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Sunwing Airlines has a total of 28 Boeing 737 jets, according to Planespotters.net.
“This combination brings together Canada’s two original low-cost carriers and positions us to accelerate growth in value-oriented travel, already the fastest growing segment of the airline market,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of WestJet.
“It creates new opportunities for our people, our operational partners and supports the recovery from a global pandemic that has been particularly challenging for the Canadian travel and tourism industry including local airports and businesses we work closely with,” added von Hoensbroech.
In February 2022, low-cost US carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines (S64) (SAVE) also announced plans to merge and create an ultra-low fare airline.