Transport Canada to conduct a public interest assessment regarding proposed acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines by WestJet Airlines Ltd.

Transport Canada

May 20, 2022           Ottawa            Transport Canada

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 Transportation Act, 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.

Canadian Airlines Must Follow Air Canada’s Example and Pay Airline Workers for Time Worked: CUPE

May 20, 2022

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.

CUPE has been raising the issue of flight attendants essentially working for free even as they perform work duties in uniform on the ground.

“Air Canada has stepped up,” said Lesosky. “Now, it’s time for the other carriers to follow suit.”

Sunwing Issues Travel Advisory due to System Issue

April 18, 2022: System issue resulting in flight delays over the next 12-24 hours

Link to Sunwing’s Current Travel Advisories🔗

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.

In the News: Sunwing flights delayed, passengers feeling stranded amid network-wide issue 🔗 CBC News

Sunwing statement on the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement

Sunwing statement on the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement

March 16, 2022 – We commend the Government of Canada’s decision to remove the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers effective April 1, 2022. Today’s announcement comes as welcome news for the travel industry, which has weathered a difficult two years due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With soaring vaccination rates across the country, the announcement is a natural step forward and will undoubtedly support our industry’s rebound. Sunwing is appreciative of the ongoing collaboration from the Government of Canada and senior officials throughout the pandemic and would like to thank the government for recognizing that testing requirements can be removed for those who are fully vaccinated while continuing to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

We look forward to brighter days ahead and helping to make even more customers’ vacation dreams come true under our wing.

Transat CEO fears WestJet-Sunwing merger will harm competition

From Flight Global 🔗 link to source story

By Pilar Wolfsteller • 10 March 2022

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.

Sunwing_Hi Res Boeing
Source: Boeing

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.

Unifor welcomes WestJet purchase of Sunwing Airlines and Vacations

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.”

Westjet and Sunwing planes (CNW Group/Unifor)
Westjet and Sunwing planes (CNW Group/Unifor)

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.

WestJet Group to Acquire Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines, Delivering Greater Value and More Sun Destination for Canadians

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.

Sunwing’s domestic summer program kicks off May 17

From Travelweek Canada 🔗 link to source story

Date: Feb 2 2022

By: Travelweek Group

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.