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From a small regional airline to Canada’s second largest carrier, Calgary-based WestJet Airlines (WS) has grown to service more than 100 destinations throughout Canada and the U.S., Mexico and Central America, Europe and the Caribbean, with plans to expand even further.
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Founded in 1996 as a low-cost alternative to Air Canada, the no-frills WestJet model was all about their staff and their customers from the very beginning. Their staff, known as ’WestJetters’, all co-own the airline through profit-sharing, operating under the company slogan, ’Owners Care’. Travellers love WestJet’s fun and friendly service approach and the strict ’no overbooking’ policy has created legions of loyal customers.
In its rapid expansion, WestJet launched WestJet Vacations to better bundle their flights with hotels, cars or transfers, and the all-inclusive holiday. Today, the airline offers vacation packages throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, Florida, California, Las Vegas and more.
With the addition of the fuel efficient Bombardier Q400 Next Gen turboprops, subsidiary WestJet Encore was born in 2013 to handle the airline’s ever-growing network of short-haul regional routes. Coincidently, the acquisition of Boeing B767 aircraft allowed WestJet to also expand into the long-haul market, introducing service to Hawaii, and eventually, the UK. Domestically, the carrier introduced free live seatback TVs on most flights within Canada.
More recently, the airline announced the purchase of up to 20 Boeing B787 Dreamliners with an eye on emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, as well as plans to launch an ultra-low-cost carrier to compete with new charter airline NewLeaf.
WestJet’s creative marketing department and endearing videos have captured the hearts of Canadians, cementing the airline’s reputation as the people’s carrier. Whether it’s a clever giveaway, a touching Father’s Day ad or a tongue-in-cheek rebrand to Canada Air in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, WestJet continuously demonstrates it has its finger on the pulse of the travel market.
Their frequent flyer program, WestJet Rewards, offers members an easy redemption policy, with one-to-one parity ($1 WestJet dollar = $1 Canadian dollar) towards base fares on reward flights (taxes extra). Although not a part of any airline alliance, WestJet counts the following airlines as codeshare partners: Aeromexico, Air France, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Emirates, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Airlines, LATAM Brazil/Peru, Philippine Airlines and Qantas.
WestJet has been named in the top 10 of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures, as one of Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers in Canada, and, in 2016, placed second as Best North American Low-Cost Airline (Skytrax).