WestJet discusses potential regional airline with employees

WestJet reports that it is considering the launch of a new short-haul, regional airline as early as 2013 using a fleet of approximately 40 turboprops.

"This is an exciting consideration for WestJetters," remarked Gregg Saretsky, WestJet president and CEO. "We are meeting with WestJetters throughout January to get their input on this watershed decision. One of the cornerstones of our success is engaging with employees early on in key decisions and I am confident they will see the strategic value of this initiative. Once our employees have had the opportunity to share their input, we will be in a better position to make a sound decision rooted in employee feedback and engagement.

"As we’ve said on many occasions before, we have regularly evaluated this strategy," Saretsky continued. "A short-haul aircraft combined with WestJet’s brand, balance sheet strength and low-cost structure will allow WestJet to profitably accomplish four main goals: introduce WestJet’s friendly and caring service to many smaller communities who have asked for our service; optimise the size of aircraft to efficiently increase frequency; create new connections between existing WestJet markets; and build additional feed to our current 71-city network so that we can continue to profitably grow and add shareholder value."

Comments from Clive Beddoe, WestJet chairman and principal founder, emphasised that the turboprop operation would be a new airline, not a division of WestJet. "I am excited at the prospect of repeating the entrepreneurial success of WestJet’s beginnings," he commented. "This new airline, powered by our low-cost model and strong corporate culture would greatly benefit the guests we serve, their communities and our shareholders. Our single fleet of Boeings will be joined by a sister company operating a single fleet of turboprops to maintain maximum efficiencies for both airlines."

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