Former Wizz Air executive to become WestJet’s new COO

Former Wizz Air executive to become WestJet’s new COO

CALGARY — WestJet has announced a former Wizz Air top executive as its new Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, effective this fall.

Diederik Pen, who most recently served as Wizz Air’s chief operations officer and brings with him more than 25 years of aviation experience in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, will assume his new role at WestJet following the completion of his immigration process. At that time, acting interim COO, Robert Antoniuk, will take on a new role as Chief Safety, Health and Environment Officer.

Pen referenced WestJet’s culture, ambition and vision as the most appealing reasons for him to join the team.

“There is an obvious high level of care and respect for doing things the right way for both the people who operate the airline and the guests,” he said. “WestJet is in an exciting position to successfully compete in the rebuild of the aviation industry and I look forward to being a part of that story.”

On welcoming Pen to the team, WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said: “Diederik has an established track record of leading safe, efficient and cost-effective operations through periods of growth and we are thrilled to welcome him to the WestJet family. Diederik’s breadth of experience spans line management, commercial, operational and leadership roles in airports, for flag carriers and low-cost airlines, and we look forward to his expertise as we enter recovery and build for the future.”

Sims also credited Antoniuk, who took on the interim COO role in February 2021, for helping to launch a successful airports transformation initiative and maintaining WestJet’s leading on-time performance in recent months. As Chief Safety Health and Environment Officer, Antoniuk will continue to shape WestJet’s industry-leading safety culture.

“Robert’s leadership has been tremendous throughout the entire pandemic, as he led major transformational work for our airports structure, before stepping in to lead operations at a critical time,” said Sims. “The pandemic has stretched our views to bring the same rigor to hygiene, physical and mental wellbeing and other such areas of health and environment that extend to our people and our guests. Robert’s proven leadership capabilities will be an asset to this important work.”