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Founded 1996
Focus cities
Frequent flyer program Frequent Guest Program
Member lounge WestJet Lounges
Fleet size 88 (+47 orders)
Destinations 69
Headquarters Calgary, Alberta
Key people Sean Durfy (CEO,President)

Clive Beddoe, (Chairman of the Board of Directors, Co-Founder)

A WestJet Boeing 737-700

WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSXWJA) is a Canadian low-cost carrier[1] based in Calgary, Alberta[2] that flies within Canada and to the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. WestJet is the second largest Canadian carrier behind Air Canada[3]. 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.[4]

WestJet is a public company with over 7,500 employees[5] and 1.2 billion USD market capitalization.[6]



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 Airlines 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 Calgary (the airline's home city and headquarters), Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver, and Winnipeg 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 Regina, Saskatoon, and Victoria. In 1997, service to Abbotsford 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[7]. The same year, the cities of Thunder Bay, Grande Prairie, and Prince George 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[8]; 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[9].

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 Canada, starting service to the cities of Hamilton and Ottawa, both in Ontario, as well as Moncton, New Brunswick. 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 McMurray and Comox. WestJet also added Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thompson and Brandon, although service to these four cities was subsequently withdrawn. In 2002, the airline added two new eastern Canadian destinations: the cities of London and Toronto. In April 2003, WestJet added Windsor, Montreal, Halifax, St. John's, and Gander.

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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[13].

In 2004, a number of U.S. destinations were added or announced. These included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and New York City[14].

Palm Springs was added in early 2005 to the company's list of destinations, as was San Diego, while New York–LaGuardia was dropped. In April 2005, they announced new seasonal service to Charlottetown but ceased service to Gander. In fall 2005, Ft. Myers and Las Vegas 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 Islands from Vancouver on September 20, 2005. In December 2005, the airline began flying from Vancouver to Honolulu and Maui.

WestJet's first scheduled service outside Canada and the United States began in 2006 with service to Nassau, Bahamas. 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.[15]

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 Airport in Newfoundland, Saint John in New Brunswick, and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario. In June 2007, WestJet added seven new international seasonal flights to Saint Lucia, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico 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.[16] The first employees moved in during the first quarter of 2009, and the building officially opened the following May.[17]

In May 2008, WestJet launched daily non-stop service to Quebec City. The next month, WestJet commenced seasonal service between Calgary and New York City via Newark Liberty International Airport. In May 2009, the airline launched new seasonal service to the cities of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Sydney, Nova Scotia; service to Yellowknife was later extended through the winter of 2009-10.

A WestJet Boeing 737-700 landing in Vancouver

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 the end of 2009 WestJet has risen to 38%, against Air Canada's 55%.[18]

In late April 2009, WestJet announced temporary suspensions of service to several of its Mexico destinations due to the outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) in the country, effective in early May the same year.

In July 2009, WestJet announced 11 new international destinations for its winter schedule. These included expanded service to the United States, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lihue (Kauai), Hawaii and Miami, Florida. New Caribbean destinations included Providenciales, in the Turks and Caicos Islands; St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles; Freeport, Bahamas; as well as the cities of Varadero, Holguin, and Cayo Coco in Cuba. Ixtapa and Cozumel were also added to the list of destinations served in Mexico.


In November 2009, WestJet announced service to the British island territory of Bermuda, slated to commence in May of 2010.[19]. Expansion of service to the Dominican Republic was announced in January of 2010, with Samana joining the airline's seasonal destinations.[20].

Agreements with KLM and Air France for travel to Europe are set to come into effect in 2009.[21] 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 Airlines, allowing for expanded travel within the United States.[22]

WestJet will also introduce their own frequent flyer program with the Royal Bank of Canada and Mastercard in early 2010, to better compete with Air Canada.[23]


WestJet aircraft at Edmonton International Airport

WestJet currently flies to 69 destinations throughout North America, including 31 cities in Canada and 17 in the United States.

WestJet's largest hub, in terms of daily departures, is its home base at Calgary International Airport, with Toronto Pearson International Airport being the airline's second-largest hub, and main connection point in eastern Canada.

WestJet serves major US airports such as Los Angeles International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and San Francisco International Airport; the latter two on a seasonal basis. The airline provides the most Canadian flights to Las Vegas and Orlando, offering non-stop routes (some of them seasonal) from ten Canadian cities to Las Vegas and eight to Orlando. In the first months of 2009, WestJet became the largest international carrier to Las Vegas. It is now a Focus City for the airline.[24]

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

Code-sharing agreements

In 1999, WestJet was in talks regarding a possible 'feeder' arrangement for Air Canada's network.[25] These talks were apparently discontinued when Air Canada went forward with acquisition of Canadian Airlines the following year.

In 2005, WestJet began a limited interline agreement with Taiwan-based China Airlines and Japan Airlines to carry passengers between Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton only, in part to test the company's capability to partner with other carriers. The test included coordinating reservations using email rather than the more conventional linking of reservation systems and therefore was not scalable.[26]

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;[27] Durfy was later quoted in 2007 saying that a deal for WestJet to join the Oneworld alliance was unlikely.[28] 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.[29]

In July 2007 WestJet announced that it would incur a non-cash write-down of $31.9 million pre-tax ($22.2 million after tax) for the assets associated with WestJet's aiRES reservation system project. The aiRes system was intended, among other things, to enable a new source of revenue by carrying interline and codeshare passengers fed to and from other airlines. The suspension of work on the aiRes system meant a further delay in realizing this new source of revenue.

In July 2008 WestJet announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to build a distribution and codeshare agreement with U.S. based Southwest Airlines.

In May 2009 Southwest announced that they now don’t anticipate implementing the WestJet codeshare before late 2010. The release said that Southwest had delayed work on the WestJet codeshare to focus on several critical objectives, including increasing its revenues. Southwest explained they, “have not discussed specifics regarding the near-term revenue projects that we are redirecting our codeshare resources to - you should hear more on that later this year.” [30]


WestJet Airlines at Calgary International Airport

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 64 136 PTVs and leather seats, Winglets
Boeing 737-800 11 166 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 successful low-cost carriers of Southwest Airlines and Ryanair. 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 2012.

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.[31]

WestJet was to be the Boeing launch customer for the Boeing 737-600 winglets, 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 Technology (BCIT). Currently it is located in the BCIT Aerospace Campus beside the Vancouver International Airport.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35]


A WestJet Boeing 737 on approach to Vancouver International Airport

Most WestJet planes are mostly white, except for the lettering on the fuselage, tail, wings and vertical stabilizers.

The tail is divided roughly into slanted thirds, coloured (from front to back) 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.

In February 2010, WestJet introduced a special livery on one aircraft (C-GWSZ) promoting its customer-service promise, or "Care-entee," in both English and French. The aircraft also features a new tail design.

WestJet Lounges

Beginning in 2006, WestJet began opening lounges in select Canadian airports. Most are operated by Servisair.[36]

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, Ontario, causing a sharp drop which injured 9 passengers. The plane carried on to Halifax and landed without incident.[37]
  • 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.[38]

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[39].
  • 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.[40][41][42][43]
  • 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.[44]
  • A 2009 poll by Léger Marketing found that WestJet is Canada's preferred airline.[5]



  1. ^ WestJet (2008-11-13). "WestJet Third Quarter Results". Press release. 3,10. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us". WestJet. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  3. ^ "WestJet, Air France, KLM work toward code-share", USA Today, 2009-02-05,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  4. ^ "WestJet aims to become 'top five' global carrier", Toronto Star, 2007-06-12,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  5. ^ a b WestJet (2009-06-09). "WestJet is Canada's preferred airline". Press release. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Company Profile for WestJet Airlines Ltd (CA;WJA)".;WJA&page=quotesearch. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  7. ^ "WestJet IPO makes a strong debut". CBC News. 1999-07-13 (Modified 2000-11-10). Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  8. ^ Keyser, Tom (2000-10-18), "WestJet's fun culture deserves to be copied", Business Edge,, retrieved 2009-02-27 
  9. ^ Sorensen, Chris (2007-07-25), "'Mr. WestJet' stepping down as CEO - again", Toronto Star,, retrieved 2009-02-27 
  10. ^ WestJet (2009-02-13). "Transat and WestJet agree amiably to terminate air transportation agreement". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  11. ^ "Air Canada suing WestJet", The Globe and Mail, 2004-04-06,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  12. ^ Marketwire (2006-05-29). "WestJet and Air Canada Issue Joint Press Release". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  13. ^ "WestJet shifts operations to Toronto from Hamilton". CBC News. 2004-01-14. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  14. ^ "WestJet to begin flying to U.S cities in October". CBC News. 2004-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  15. ^ "Sean Durfy to become new WestJet president". (Canadian Press). 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  16. ^ Teel, Gina (2009-04-13), "WestJet goes for gold on environment", Calgary Herald,, retrieved 2009-05-10 
  17. ^ CNW Group (2009-05-04). "WestJet welcomes its WestJetters "home"". Press release. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  18. ^ Jang, Brent (2010-02-20), "WestJet closing gap with Air Canada", The Globe and Mail,, retrieved 2010-02-20 
  19. ^ CNW Group (2009-11-23). "WestJet announces service to Bermuda". Press release. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  20. ^ PRNewswire-FirstCall (2010-01-27). "WestJet offers more Caribbean sun". Press release. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  21. ^ WestJet (2009-02-04). "WestJet, Air France and KLM Announce Signing of Memorandum of Understanding". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  22. ^ "Southwest, WestJet code share delayed", Dallas Business Journal, 2009-05-26,, retrieved 2009-06-09 
  23. ^ Jang, Brent (2008-12-30), "WestJet files new initiatives in flight plan", The Globe and Mail,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  24. ^ Russell, Scott (2009-05-28), Fiscal year 2009 (Starts July 2008) Enplaned and Deplaned International Passengers, Clark County Department of Aviation, 
  25. ^ Hegeman, Holly (1999-03-11), For Canadian Airlines, More Money Isn't the Answer; New Management Is,,, retrieved 2009-07-16 
  26. ^ Karp, Aaron (2007-11-20), "WestJet in talks with Air France regarding interline agreement", Air Transport World Online,, retrieved 2009-08-01 
  27. ^ Jang, Brent (2006-08-31), "WestJet Looks to Fly Higher with Oneworld", The Globe and Mail,, retrieved 2006-10-31 
  28. ^ "WestJet says link up with alliance not likely", Toronto Star, 2007-06-06,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  29. ^ WestJet (2008-11-04). "oneworld and WestJet introduce global travel program for businesses in Canada". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  30. ^ ""Southwest Pushes WestJet Codeshare, Shifts Priorities"", Bnet, 2009-05-26,, retrieved 2010-03-12 
  31. ^ The Boeing Company (2007-08-02). "Boeing Confirms WestJet Order for 20 Next-Generation Boeing 737 Airplanes". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  32. ^ British Columbia Institute of Technology (2003-10-01). "WestJet donates 737-200 aircraft to BCIT Aerospace". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  33. ^ Bell Canada Enterprises (2005-05-18). "WestJet Launches Complimentary Live In-Flight Television on all of its 737-700 Aircraft". Press release. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  34. ^ "Inflight Experience: Buy on Board". WestJet. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  35. ^ WestJet (2008-04-01). "WestJet Introduces Sleeper Cabins". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  36. ^ "WestJet Lounges". Servisair Lounges. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  37. ^ "At least 8 injured as WestJet flight hits turbulence". CTV News. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  38. ^ Kaminski-Morrow, David (2008-02-08). "No injuries after Westjet 737 overruns at Ottawa". Flightglobal. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  39. ^ "Entrepreneur Of The Year - Recipients". Ernst & Young. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  40. ^ "2005 Canadian Corporate Culture Study". Waterstone Human Capital. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  41. ^ "2006 Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures". Waterstone Human Capital. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  42. ^ "2007 Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures". Waterstone Human Capital. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  43. ^ CNW Group (2008-01-16). "WestJet Tops List of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures". Press release. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  44. ^ "Alberta’s top 40 places to work", Calgary Herald, 2008-10-18,, retrieved 2009-02-23 

External links


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