WestJet and Unifor ratify agreement

“We will be growing in the East”: WestJet provides update on growth strategy

CALGARY — WestJet is staying the course on its new strategic direction, first unveiled last summer as a roadmap to becoming a resilient low-cost airline.

In a state of the airline address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce this week, WestJet Group Chief Executive Officer Alexis von Hoensbroech said the airline is now seeing the benefits of its new strategy “coming to life across Canada.” Calling the strategy “ambitious” and “laser-focused on our strengths,” he added that it will help bring back more of what Canadians love about the airline.

“At WestJet, our proposition is to ‘love where you are going.’ This plan focuses on just that – where we are going as an airline, as an employer, and as a connector of people, businesses and communities across Canada. It will strengthen our airline, ensure our long-term profitability and set us apart from our competitors,” said von Hoensbroech.

The growth strategy, which was announced in June 2022, involves focusing future investments on Western Canada, where WestJet has a large portion of the market share. This meant deploying aircraft to the west and removing routes from the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa triangle, although the airline has been adamant that it will not be pulling out of eastern Canada entirely.

In his remarks, von Hoensbroech summarized WestJet’s progress in three key areas: 

Returning to roots as Western Canada’s home carrier:

  • In partnership with the Government of Alberta, committing significant capacity growth into Calgary to double its offering to more than 20 million annual seats before the end of the decade, including basing all intercontinental Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying in Calgary.
  • Significant double-digit capacity growth across most major and mid-sized airports across Western Canada.
  • Introducing 20 new routes and three new destinations between Western Canada and the United States, including new non-stop service to Washington, Detroit and Minneapolis, with new routes added to Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Nashville and Seattle.

Expanding sun and leisure flying across Canada and focused growth in Eastern Canada:

  • Expanding direct flights with a 13 per cent increase in total capacity between Eastern and Western Canada, including new or resumed nonstop routes from:
  • Edmonton to London, Moncton, Charlottetown, Ottawa and Montreal;  
  • Calgary to Thunder Bay, Quebec City and Moncton;
  • Vancouver to Halifax, and resumed flights to Montreal; and
  • Comox to Toronto;
  • Securing all required regulatory approvals for WestJet’s proposed acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations and advancing towards the close of the transaction.

“I want to be clear on this point, we will be growing in the East,” reassured von Hoensbroech. “Our growth in the East will focus on point-to-point travel to Western Canada, and all elements of leisure travel. WestJet’s position as Eastern Canada’s leisure airline will be further strengthened once the acquisition of Sunwing is concluded.”

Providing affordable airfares as a stronger, more resilient low-cost carrier:

  • Ensuring the Boeing 737 remains the backbone of the WestJet fleet, with the largest order book for new Boeing aircraft of any airline in Canada.
  • Maintaining one of North America’s youngest, most fuel-efficient fleets; including the future addition of the 737-10, which has one of the lowest costs per seat among mid-range aircraft and lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
  • Advancing WestJet’s traditional cost advantage over its main competitors


WestJet also introduced an Operational Excellence program that will redesign the travel experience across all touchpoints of a potential disruption, focusing on digital enhancements, IT infrastructure management and operational resilience.

Key elements of the program include: 

  • Improving guest facing capabilities, timely and accurate communications and expanded self-serve tools during disruptions.
  • Investing in back-end system development to ensure WestJet employees have the information and tools to keep the company’s operations moving.
  • Creating greater schedule resilience that will isolate disruptions and allow for faster recovery during operational challenges of all types.

To read more updates about WestJet’s progress against its growth strategy, click here

Get travel news right to your inbox!