On April 8, 2022, WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Sunwing Travel Group notified the Minister of Transport that WestJet proposes to acquire Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines. This notification was in accordance with the mergers and acquisitions provisions of the Canada Transportation Act.
The Minister of Transport has determined that the transaction raises public interest considerations related to national transportation. As such, a public interest assessment of the proposed transaction will be conducted with input from the Commissioner of Competition, who will assess impacts on competition.
The public interest assessment will include consultations with the air industry and other stakeholders, other government departments, other levels of government, as well as the public. The assessment will include an analysis of the economic benefits or challenges resulting from the proposed transaction. Canadians are encouraged to have their say on letstalktransportation.ca.
Under the Canada TransportationAct, Transport Canada has up to 150 days to complete this public interest assessment. However, the Minister has the authority to grant an extension should extra time be necessary. Considering the size and scope of the proposed transaction, an extra 50 days has been granted to both Transport Canada and the Commissioner of Competition, to ensure sufficient time for thorough analysis and assessment.
The Department now has up to 200 days (until December 5, 2022) to complete the public interest assessment and provide it to the Minister. The Minister would then provide a recommendation to the Governor in Council (Cabinet) concerning the proposed purchase. The Minister’s recommendation would incorporate the findings of the Commissioner’s report on competition considerations. There is no legislated timeline for the Minister to make his recommendation or for the Governor in Council to make a final decision.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CUPE’s Airline Division, which represents 15,000 flight attendants at nine Canadian airlines, says other major carriers like WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing must follow the example set by Air Canada earlier this week, and pay flight attendants for time spent on the ground during delays at Pearson Airport.
“Our members are working just as hard on the ground to keep passengers safe and comfortable as they are in the air, and deserve to be paid-in-full for every minute they’re at work in uniform”
“We were happy to get an agreement this week to ensure an hour worked is an hour paid for our members at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge,” said Wesley Lesosky, president of CUPE’s Airline Division and also president of CUPE’s Air Canada Component. “This is what can happen when the union and the employer come together: we can find solutions that benefit everybody.”
While policies differ from airline to airline, generally speaking, flight attendants are paid significantly less – or not at all – for their time on the ground. The issue has boiled over in recent months, as understaffing at Canadian airports has led to delays of two to three hours during the security screening and deplaning processes.
“Our members are working just as hard on the ground to keep passengers safe and comfortable as they are in the air, and deserve to be paid-in-full for every minute they’re at work in uniform,” said Rena Kisfalvi, secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Airline Division and president of CUPE 4055, which represents flight attendants at Sunwing.
We are currently experiencing a network-wide system issue which has impacted check-in and boarding, resulting in flight delays for all departing flights over the next 12-24 hours. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and are working to have the issue resolved as soon as possible. We strongly encourage all customers travelling during this period to check their flight status before heading to the airport.
Transat AT chief executive Annick Guerard says WestJet’s pending acquisition of leisure airline Sunwing will “significantly” harm competition in Canada’s hotly contested leisure travel market.
“We have taken note of the proposed transaction announced last week,” chief executive Annick Guerard says on the company’s quarterly earnings call on 10 March.
“We expect a thorough analysis by the competition bureau and ministry of transport, given the important competition issue that this raises. We certainly do not see this as being good news for customers as it will significantly reduce competition in the market, especially in key markets such as western Canada where concentration would be very high,” she adds.
Air Tranat’s CEO says WestJet acquisition of Sunwing will harm competition
WestJet announced its plans to take over the low-cost vacation specialist along with its Sunwing Vacations tour operator business on 2 March, shaking up the country’s budget holiday travel sector.
At the time, the Calgary-based airline, the country’s second-largest carrier after Air Canada, said the deal “positions us to accelerate growth in value-oriented travel, already the fastest growing segment of the airline market”.
Air Transat had concluded a code-share agreement with WestJet on transatlantic routes last year as part of its post-pandemic pivot to alliances and collaborations in an effort to extend its reach.
Meantime, two further discount airlines are poised to enter the Canadian market in the coming months – Lynx Air, which has scheduled its first revenue flights for early April, and Canada Jetlines, which has said it is targeting a launch in the beginning of the third quarter at the latest – while incumbents Flair Airlines and WestJet ultra-low-cost subsidiary Swoop are both beefing up their fleets.
TORONTO, March 2, 2022 /CNW/ – Unifor welcomes today’s WestJet announcement of its purchase of Sunwing and Sunwing Vacations.
“Congratulations to WestJet and Sunwing for reaching a deal,” said Scott Doherty, the Executive Assistant to the Unifor’s National President. “With the federal government lifting travel restrictions and more Canadians travelling more for business and pleasure, we look forward to fostering good relationships between WestJet and Sunwing in their new capacity.”
The expansion, announced March 2, 2022, to include Sunwing Airlines means more jobs for Canadians, says Doherty.
WestJet will add increased capacity to destinations. Instead of Sunwing supplementing seasonal demand with imported aircraft, the company will dedicate their existing planes, otherwise used seasonally, to operate year-round in Canada. This translates to WestJet being able to offer more affordable fares by immediately expanding its low-cost footprint in Canada.
Unifor represents roughly 700 WestJet airport customer service and baggage agents in Calgary and Vancouver airports, as well as 452 Sunwing pilots.
“Unifying two leading airlines presents new possibilities and work for Unifor WestJet employees,” said Jamie Mote and Karen Berry, of Unifor Local 531’s bargaining committee, which represents WestJet workers. “It secures our future and ensures that unionized Unifor members have a strong voice as we move ahead in this new venture.”
“We expect this deal will not impact our Sunwing members’ jobs, who have been working tirelessly on the front line through the pandemic,” said Barret Armann, President of Unifor Local 7378, which represents Sunwing pilots. “Our focus is the success and long-term careers of our pilots going forward as we build back better in the Canadian travel industry.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
Combination strengthens both companies following impact of pandemic
Drives growth and job creation
Unlocks exciting opportunities for WestJet and Sunwing employees as part of a vibrant national airline
CALGARY, AB and TORONTO, ON, March 2, 2022 /CNW/ – WestJet and Sunwing announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement under which the WestJet Group of companies will acquire Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines. The transaction will bring together two distinctly Canadian travel and tourism success stories to deliver new travel options and greater value for travellers in the rapidly expanding leisure and work-from-anywhere travel markets. The combination will enable both companies to protect and create jobs and rebuild strength in the Canadian travel industry at a critical time.
Following the close of the transaction, a new tour operating business unit will be created under the WestJet Group, to include both Sunwing Vacations and WestJet Vacations Inc., and will be led by Sunwing CEO Stephen Hunter. Sunwing’s current shareholders will become equity holders in the WestJet Group.
Canadian travellers will have access to more competitive airfares and affordable vacation packages through the combined strength of the companies. The tour operator business will be headquartered in Toronto, with a Quebec head office in Laval and the business will continue to market the Sunwing brand alongside WestJet Vacations. The WestJet Group will maintain its head office in Calgary.
The WestJet Group of companies will expand to include Sunwing Airlines. This will add increased capacity, dedicating otherwise seasonal aircraft to operate year-round in Canada, instead of Sunwing supplementing seasonal demand with imported aircraft, which translates into more jobs for Canadians. This acquisition will improve the WestJet Group’s ability to offer more affordable fares by immediately expanding its low-cost footprint in Canada.
“This is an exciting moment for WestJet, Sunwing and Canada’s travel industry,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of WestJet. “We are bringing together two highly complementary businesses with powerhouse brands to strengthen our successful leisure business and deliver greater value to our guests.”
“This combination brings together Canada’s two original low-cost carriers and positions us to accelerate growth in value-oriented travel, already the fastest growing segment of the airline market. It creates new opportunities for our people, our operational partners and supports the recovery from a global pandemic that has been particularly challenging for the Canadian travel and tourism industry including local airports and businesses we work closely with,” added von Hoensbroech.
Stephen Hunter, CEO of Sunwing, said, “We have a very promising future as part of The WestJet Group, which is one of the only airlines in the world that has not issued debt or equity during the pandemic, or accepted sector-specific government aid. The combination of their strong balance sheet and growth trajectory with Sunwing’s unparalleled expertise in creating differentiated vacation packages will ensure the success of the new vacation division. My team and I are excited for the future, and we look forward to offering even more vacation destinations to Canadians at affordable prices.”
WestJet Group and Sunwing intend to build on their collective history of constructive labour relations and will respect all arrangements with union and employee associations, including those in place and those currently under negotiation.
As a result of the resiliency created by the transaction, Sunwing expects to no longer require the pandemic-related Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) Sunwing obtained from the Canadian government in early 2021, which will be fully repaid upon closing of the transaction.
The combination, which remains subject to receipt of regulatory approvals, is anticipated to close late 2022.
Video from WestJet’s Alexis von Hoensbroech and Sunwing’s Stephen Hunter is available for download here.
Advisors Barclays is acting as lead financial advisor to WestJet, with additional advisory provided by Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Canaccord Genuity Corp and RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Goodmans LLP is acting as legal advisor to WestJet.
About the WestJet Group of Companies In 26 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic the Wewww.westjet.comhttps://www.westjet.com/en-castJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene prograwww.westjet.comm. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.
For more information about everything WestJet, please visit www.westjet.com.
Recent recognition includes: – 2020/2019 Number-One Ranked Canadian Airline Loyalty Program in Member Engagement (Bond Brand Loyalty) – 2019/2018/2017 Best Airline in Canada (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines) – 2019 Winner Among Mid-Sized Airlines in North America (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines) – 2019/2018 Number-One-Ranked Airline Credit Card in Canada (Rewards Canada)
About Sunwing The largest integrated travel company in North America, Sunwing has more flights to the south than any other leisure carrier with convenient direct service from airports across Canada to popular sun destinations across the U.S.A., Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. This scale enables Sunwing to offer customers exclusive deals at top-rated resorts in the most popular vacation destinations as well as cruise packages and seasonal domestic flight service. Sunwing customers benefit from the assistance of the company’s own knowledgeable destination representatives, who greet them upon arrival and support them throughout their vacation journey. The company supports the communities where it operates through the Sunwing Foundation, a charitable initiative focused on the support and development of youth and humanitarian aid.
TORONTO — Sunwing has unveiled its domestic summer program, which runs from May to September.
Now in its 17th year, the program features weekly flights to some of the most sought-after destinations from coast to coast. As an added incentive, Sunwing is also offering customers savings of up to $200 per couple on domestic flights.
“We’re thrilled that our domestic program is making its return this summer,” said Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations at Sunwing. “Our program is well loved by customers who enjoy exploring Canada’s diverse landscapes, and will be of particular interest this year to those looking to reconnect with family and loved ones after extended periods apart. We’re excited to be helping even more customers explore Canada under our wing.”
Convenient daily flights between Toronto and Vancouver will kick off May 17 and run until Sept. 7. Flights between Toronto and St. John’s will run from Monday to Friday starting June 20 until Sept. 7, while Toronto and Gander will depart Tuesdays and Fridays starting June 21 until Sept. 6. Flights between Toronto and Stephenville will fly Wednesdays starting June 22 until Sept. 7.
By Joe Lofaro, CTVNewsMontreal.ca Digital Reporter | Friday, January 7, 2022
MONTREAL — Canada’s health minister announced Friday that it has notified Quebec’s top prosecutor of alleged infractions in relation to passengers who behaved “irresponsibly, inexcusably, and unacceptably” on a rowdy Sunwing flight to Cancun last week.
Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said during a press conference on the country’s response to COVID-19 that 27 out of the 130 passengers from the Dec. 30 flight have already returned home from Mexico as of Wednesday on four different flights.
“The notices of infraction were referred to the Government of Quebec, at the direction of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, because it’s the provinces that are responsible for following up on these infractions,” Duclos said.
Quebec’s prosecution office, the DPCP, had reportedly not yet received the file Friday evening.
“The DPCP would like to point out that it has not yet received any file, both in criminal and penal matters,” wrote Audrey Roy-Cloutier.
“In the event that such cases are submitted to the DPCP by the investigating entities, they will be analyzed … to determine whether prosecution should be brought.”
The notices relating to some of those 27 passengers are in addition to the ongoing investigation by Transport Canada as the federal government probes the “obvious” violations of airline regulations seen in video footage of the plane party, Duclos added.
Several of the passengers, which included Quebec social media influencers and reality TV stars, published multiple social media videos of themselves partying in the aisle of the aircraft without face masks, openly drinking, and vaping on board.
At least two of the passengers have lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, Quebec provincial police are monitoring the passengers who returned home to ensure they follow their quarantine measures.
“The Sûreté du Québec have proactively contacted the Public Health Agency of Canada as part of our mandate to coordinate the follow-up of the rules in effect as well as to respect the integrity of the application of the quarantine rules in Quebec,” said Audrey-Anne Bilodeau, a spokesperson for the SQ.
Though the rules under the Quarantine Act is federal jurisdiction, it’s the responsibility of provinvial police to follow up with municipal police services to ensure residents from the flight are following the rules.
The passengers were greeted by SQ officers who interrogated them as they arrived at the airport to verify their vaccine passports and their PCR tests that are needed to return to Canada under COVID-19 travel rules, according to Duclos. Officer also verified that they have a proper quarantine plan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today called the passengers’ conduct irresponsible and a “slap in the face” to everyone who has been following public health restrictions
Canadian Press • January 05, 2022
MONTREAL — Passengers who filmed themselves partying maskless aboard a chartered Sunwing Airlines flight from Montreal to Mexico last week have become pariahs and now face being stranded after two more airlines announced Wednesday they will not fly them home to Canada.
Following Sunwing’s cancellation of the return charter flight from Cancun scheduled for Wednesday, Air Transat and Air Canada both said they will refuse to carry the passengers, who were called “idiots” Wednesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Three airlines refuse to carry ‘idiot’ Quebecers who partied on way to Cancun
Air Transat said on Twitter the “disruptive passengers” from the Sunwing flight had been trying to return home on its flights, but they were denied boarding based on the company’s obligation to ensure passenger and crew safety.
Air Canada issued a statement saying that “to the extent that we can identify the passengers who were part of the group, Air Canada is denying boarding to ensure the safety of other passengers and its crew.”
1/2 We are aware of the situation regarding disruptive passengers who have traveled to Cancun and are now attempting to return to Canada on our flights.— Air Transat (@airtransat) January 5, 2022
Among those looking for a way home is Rebecca St-Pierre, a 19-year-old student from Trois-Rivieres, Que., who said she feels abandoned, not knowing how she’ll pay for her hotel room as her stay is extended indefinitely. She said she tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday and is now in isolation in Tulum, south of Cancun. She estimated that about 30 others on the flight have tested positive.
“The organizer just left everybody. I don’t know who’s still here. All the flights have been cancelled,” an emotional St-Pierre told The Canadian Press.
St-Pierre said she won the free trip in a contest on Instagram and had never previously heard of the organizer, who identifies himself on social media as James William Award. “I was expecting a relaxing week, where I was going to be careful,” she said. “But this turns out to be an expensive trip for something that was supposed to be free.”
Videos of the Dec. 30 flight shared on social media show passengers not wearing masks as they gather in close proximity, singing and dancing in the aisle and on seats. In one video, a large bottle of vodka appears to be passed among passengers, and later a woman appears to be smoking an electronic cigarette.
St-Pierre acknowledged that the videos give an accurate picture of what went on during the five-hour flight to Cancun.
“There was no social distancing … I think people were doing drugs,” St-Pierre said. She said that ahead of the scheduled return trip, some people were putting Vaseline up their noses in an attempt to thwart COVID-19 testing.
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino issued a joint statement late Tuesday saying they had directed their departments to investigate.
The statement said passengers who violated Transport Department regulations could face fines of up to $5,000 per offence. It also warned that anyone giving false information to a Canadian government official could face fines of up to $750,000, six months in jail or both.
An aviation expert said he hopes the Transport Department investigation will shed light on why the pilot didn’t request an emergency landing after the crew lost control of the passengers.
“We live in a world where pseudo-influencers think they are above everything, but a plane 30,000 feet above the ground can be extremely dangerous,” said Mehran Ebrahimi, who heads an aerospace industry research unit at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal.
“Imagine if people decided, for fun, to play with the door? A plane is not a cottage you rent where you can do everything you want.”
Awad wrote on Twitter Wednesday that a “simple party” on a plane was behind the controversy. “I will take a moment to sit down and rethink everything,” he said. “Especially how I can do things better next time.”
Awad, who operates 111 Private Club, organized the trip including a group of social media “influencers” and reality TV stars, such as Karl Sabourin from the popular Quebec show “Occupation Double,” and Sandrine Seguin and Anna-Maelle Laprise, who both appeared on the province’s version of “Love Island.”
Trudeau called the passengers’ conduct irresponsible and a “slap in the face” to everyone who has been following public health restrictions. In French, he referred to the passengers as “idiots” and “barbarians.”
“Like all Canadians who’ve seen the videos, I’m extremely frustrated,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa.
According to reports, the plane had been chartered and some of the passengers were cast members from Quebec reality television shows.
“I have asked Transport Canada to investigate the matter,” Alghabra wrote in a post on Twitter. “We must take the risks of COVID seriously!”
Later Tuesday, Alghabra, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino issued a joint statement which said all three ministers have directed their departments to investigate.
The statement said Transport Canada has contacted the airline, and says passengers who violated the department’s regulations could face fines of up to $5,000 per offence.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Wednesday, saying he’s “extremely frustrated” with the actions of the travellers, some of whom appear to be Quebec social media influencers.
“It’s a slap in the face to see people putting themselves, putting their fellow citizens, putting airline workers at risk by being completely irresponsible,” he said at a news conference in Ottawa.
“I can assure you that this is a situation that Transport Canada takes extremely seriously and we are definitely following up on that.”
Pierre Poilievre, Conservative Party finance critic, says Sunwing should give back its subsidies to the federal government for allowing “elites” do what they want during a pandemic.
“And quite frankly what is sickening is to see the wealthy elites here in Canada around the world… that facilitate it.”
Rena Kisfalvi, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local that represents about 1,000 Sunwing flight attendants, also called the passengers’ behaviour “unacceptable” and expressed sympathy for the crew on the Cancun flight.
“There’s a point where if you lose the control, you can’t get it back sometimes,” she said in a phone interview.
Compliance with mask rules has been a “massive issue” over the past year that has “caused a tremendous amount of aggressive behaviour” from passengers toward cabin crews, she said.
“I’m not sure where Transport Canada is on this. Why haven’t you done more?” Kisfalvi asked, at around the same time Alghabra put out his Twitter post.
“These passengers that are not complying, are they being charged? Are they being denied boarding in the future? Are they placed on a no-fly list? Maybe we as a government have to take that step to show the travelling public, `Look, we mean business here.”’
Sunwing said in an emailed statement that passenger behaviour on the private charter flight “was unruly and contravened several Canadian Aviation Regulations as well as public health regulations.” It said its security department investigated, and the company reported the incident to Transport Canada.
The airline said it provided the tour group leader conditions to ensure the safety of passengers and crew on the return flight to Montreal, scheduled for Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, the group did not accept all of the terms. As a result of our ongoing investigation and the group’s refusal to accept all terms of carriage, we have made the decision to cancel the return flight,” the Sunwing statement said. “We regret any inconvenience to the passengers.”
Air Transat says the passengers will not be allowed on its planes as they attempt to return to Canada.
The airline said on Twitter today the “disruptive passengers” from the Sunwing flight are trying to return home on Air Transat flights, but they will be denied boarding based on the company’s obligation to ensure passenger and crew safety.
On Instagram, 111 Private Club took credit for the flight, describing the all-inclusive New Year’s trip to Mexico it organized as the “best event of the year.” It posted a screenshot of a newspaper article about the flight with the caption, “we made the news.”
James William Awad, who operates 111 Private Club, did not respond to a request for comment sent through Facebook. A message sent to the 111 Private Club account also received no reply.
The statement from Alghabra, Duclos and Mendicino noted that the Public Health Agency of Canada and partners coordinate the processing of travellers returning to Canada, and that travellers suspected of non-compliance are referred to PHAC.
It stated that questionable or fraudulent documents will be retained, and warned that giving false information to a Canadian government official and could result in fines of up to $750,000, six months in jail, or both.
If endangering the lives of others and causing harm, the statement warns a traveller could be subject to up to three years in prison and/or up to $1 million in fines.
“The Government of Canada continues to advise all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada at this time,” the statement concluded.
“We continue to work closely with airlines, airports, and our other transportation partners to safeguard the health of Canadians and Canada’s air transportation system.”