The new chief executive of WestJet has set out his strategy for the Canadian low-cost airline, including a focus on the narrowbody fleet and a potential new aircraft order.
WestJet said it will focus on growing as a low-cost carrier and will shift resources to grow its network in the west of Canada. It will also invest in leisure travel and flights to sun destinations, particularly after its planned acquisition of Sunwing has received regulatory approval.
The airline said it will also “pause further investment” into additional Boeing 787 Dreamliners in order to focus on the narrowbody segment. The existing 787 fleet will be centered around western Canada, WestJet said in a statement on June 16, 2022.
“In addition to the more than 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that the airline will receive over the coming years, including 15 in 2022 alone, WestJet is working towards a substantial additional narrow body order,” the airline revealed.
“WestJet’s low-cost roots have been the foundation of the historical success of our company,” Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of the WestJet Group, commented in a press statement. “As we realize our ambitious growth plans, we will bring more air service to Canadian communities and connect more people to what matters most, through friendly and affordable air travel.”
The announcement came after von Hoensbroech, who was previously CEO of Austrian Airlines, had spent 100 days at the company, getting to know the staff and operations.
“WestJet is strong foundationally, having weathered the pandemic as perhaps the world’s only airline of scale that did not accept sector-specific government funding or issue any new equity or debt,” von Hoensbroech said.
He said the airline and the aviation industry was at a pivotal point. “As we emerge from the pandemic, the world around us is changing with rising inflation and instability from the war in Ukraine.”
Von Hoensbroech also highlighted the challenge of staffing shortages at airports. “The immediate priority is to ensure we are ready for the high volume of pent-up travel demand this summer,” he said.