CALGARY — WestJet is calling Air Canada’s successful takeover of Transat “anti-competitive” and a “serious setback” to Canada’s economy.
News of the takeover was announced yesterday by Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, who confirmed that the Government of Canada has approved the purchase of Transat A.T. Inc. by Air Canada for the sale price of $190 million.
In response to the news, WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims did not hold back in an official statement, saying that the decision “shows blatant disregard for all Canadians who believe in healthy competition” and that when travel resumes Canadians will “face fewer choices and higher fares.”
He noted that the government’s own Competition Bureau stated that “eliminating the rivalry between these airlines would result in increased prices, less choice, decreases in service and a significant reduction in travel by Canadians on a variety of routes where their existing networks overlap.”
Sims’ added: “It is hard to imagine a deal as anti-competitive in any industry where the number one player buys number three without meaningful remedies. The Competition Bureau themselves described such cosmetic remedies as inadequate. Canadians should be profoundly disappointed.”
In his announcement yesterday, Minister of Transport Alghabra said the deal is “subject to strict terms and conditions that are in the interests of Canadians,” and that the government considered a broad range of factors, including level of service, social and economic implications, the financial health of the air transportation sector as well as competition.
The deal still needs approval from the European Commission.