WestJet To Launch Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier
Canada’s WestJet said it will launch an ‘ultra-low-cost carrier’ later this year, subject to regulatory approvals.
The airline said the as yet unnamed carrier is expected to launch in late 2017 with an initial fleet of 10 high-density Boeing 737-800s.
“We have built WestJet from its low-cost, regional roots,” the airline’s chairman Clive Beddoe said in a statement. "Launching a ULCC will broaden WestJet's growth opportunities and open new market segments by offering more choice to those Canadians looking for lower fares.”
The new airline is expected to adopt the industry practice of unbundling services by offering a base fare supplemented by extra payments for luggage, onboard food and beverages, and other services.
“The worldview on low-cost airlines has changed since the launch of WestJet in 1996 and we are responding,” WestJet’s chief executive Gregg Saretsky said. “The complete unbundling of services and products in order to lower fares for the price-sensitive traveller has created the ULCC category and our new airline will provide Canadians a pro-competitive, cheap and cheerful flying experience from a company with a proven track record.”
WestJet launched in 1996 as a low cost carrier, but in recent years has been moving more upmarket and has continued its international expansion, adding UK and Ireland flights to its North American and Caribbean destinations.