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CALGARY — Canada’s ultra low-cost carrier race is heating up, now that WestJet has thrown its hat into the ring.
Expected to begin service later this year, the airline has announced its intention to launch a brand new ULCC, subject to agreement with its pilots and any required regulatory approvals. The initial fleet will include 10 high-density Boeing 737-800s designed by the airline and will provide Canadians with no-frills, lower-cost travel options.
On the impact the new ULCC will have on the company’s overall growth, Clive Beddoe, co-founder of WestJet and Chair of the Board of the Directors, said: “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.”
Beddoe also lauded WestJet’s “low-cost, regional roots” and explained how the airline is now focused on “disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market.”
Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO, added how current trends in the airline industry has carved out a completely new niche, that of the ULCC.
“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 to pro-competitive, cheap and cheerful flying experience from a company with a proven track record,” he said. “The worldview on low-cost airlines has changed since the launch of WestJet in 1996 and we are responding.”
The yet-to-be-named ULCC will be in direct competition with NewLeaf, which launched early last year with ultra-low fares between several Canadian cities for as low as $89. WestJet, together with regional carrier WestJet Encore, now offers scheduled flights to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.