WestJet Cargo and SmartKargo partner on innovative digital transformation to better serve customers

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet Cargo and SmartKargo today announced a partnership that will provide extensive digital solutions to enhance and transform the airline’s air cargo business. In 2022, SmartKargo, a comprehensive cargo information management solution, will implement innovative software that will provide a streamlined user experience for WestJet Cargo customers.

“As we witness record-setting cargo volumes, we are making strategic investments in our technology, our aircraft and our people,” said Charles Duncan, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Cargo. “Our partnership with SmartKargo signifies an integral step forward in the digital transformation of our business. We look forward to working in lockstep with SmartKargo to digitize our business and deliver an improved user experience to our valued customers.”

Together with SmartKargo, WestJet Cargo customers will realize an enhanced experience through paperless shipment documentation, ease of booking, and the ability to track their shipments in real-time as well as access important information and updates through a mobile and browser-friendly cloud platform.

“On behalf of the SmartKargo team, we are very excited to add WestJet to our list of valued airline clients, who have placed their trust in us to transform their cargo business,” said Milind Tavshikar, Chief Executive Officer, QuantumID Technologies, SmartKargo. “We look forward to supporting their growth and enabling new opportunities in the marketplace as they arise.”

In the coming months, the two businesses will work expediently, to integrate and implement SmartKargo’s digital solutions with WestJet Cargo’s existing systems and supply chain providers.

As WestJet Cargo continues to grow, so too will its team, network and flight plans. To learn more about how WestJet Cargo can fulfill shipping needs, or to discover incredible employment opportunities, visit WestJet Cargo

About WestJet 

In 25 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 WestJet 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 program. 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 westjet.com

WestJet makes travel wishes come true

Canadians surprised with meaningful and emotional reunions through WestJet Christmas Miracle

WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True is the airline’s 10th holiday video. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True is the airline’s 10th holiday video. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 6, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today released the airline’s 10th holiday video, WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True. This year’s theme focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic.

The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
WestJet Christmas Miracle: A Wish Come True focuses on the emotional and sentimental moments that guests missed celebrating last year due to the pandemic. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“The pandemic impacted everyone’s ability to connect with families and friends for far too long and we’ve truly missed celebrating those moments with our guests,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Brand, Communications and Community Investment. “Hearing Canadians’ wishes, we knew we could do something meaningful given how important travel is to Canadians from coast-to-coast.”

Over the course of two weeks, undercover and operating as a documentary film crew, WestJet interviewed Canadians in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver asking them how the pandemic impacted their Christmas traditions and what they wished for the most this holiday season.  

The spot features surprises ranging from round-trip tickets and all-inclusive vacation packages to a global reunion between mother and daughter.

“Unsuspecting Canadians authentically divulged so many relatable missed moments from flights home for the holidays, to family reunions and planned vacations that were postponed,” continued Bartrem. “We truly hope this year’s Christmas Miracle brings joy and the personal connection we’ve all been wishing for the most. As the skies open once again, we look forward to doing what we’ve been doing so well for 25 years – connecting our guests with their loved ones.”

Additional Christmas Miracle content including a WestJet’s Christmas Miracle surprise for the airline’s WestJet Cares for Kids partner, Make A Wish, will be available in the coming days.

About WestJet 

In 25 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 WestJet 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 program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

Door left open by mistake leads to ‘security breach’ at Vancouver airport

From City News Vancouver – link to source story

Passengers bypass customs at YVR, leads to ‘security breach’

By Ria Renouf | 1 December 2021

Canada Border Services Agency says everyone on a WestJet flight from LA to Vancouver last month has been accounted for after what it describes as a “security breach”

When Flight 1697 landed at YVR on Nov. 1, the passengers were processed as domestic instead of international travellers, meaning they didn’t have to clear customs.

“This was an extremely isolated incident that occurred as a result of an incorrect door that was left open in error, subsequently allowing guests to miss being directed through to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA),” says a spokesperson for WestJet in an email.

A spokesperson for the Vancouver Airport Authority also says a door was left open by mistake.

“Although this kind of error is extremely rare, it happened in our airport and we are committed to helping ensure it does not happen again,” the emailed statement continues.

CBSA has confirmed to CityNews they are aware of the “security breach,” and that “some passengers did not follow the standard reporting process for customs and immigration screening.”

All passengers were identified, located, and screened within 24 hours, according to CBSA.

“The CBSA takes any breach of security very seriously, and is committed to ensuring the safety of our country and our border. The CBSA has operational plans and protocols in place to respond to incidents such as this, and will continue to work with the Airport Authority, the RCMP, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada, and WestJet to review practices to prevent future incidents.”

At the airport, one change has already been implemented.

“YVR took immediate action to review airport procedures, which resulted in one direct change: international arrivals will no longer be gated at B-Pier until a new process is tested and implemented with the airline and CBSA,” the statement from the airport authority explains.

Gabor Lukacs, with Air Passenger Rights Canada, says while this was technically a breach — he doesn’t see is too much cause for concern.

“Generally, from a very narrow flight safety perspective, I’m more concerned about who gets on the flight, not who gets off the flight,” he explains.

“What I would want to know is did they find out why it happened? Can they provide a good explanation for why they don’t think it’s going to happen again? I think that they all did the right thing, they investigated, they fixed it, they’re moving on.”

Dr. Robert Russo, a professor at UBC’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, says when things like this happen, it’s due to human error.

“Basically, it’s a result of just someone you know, inadvertently leading some group to the wrong door,” he says.

He does think there is some risk that CBSA would not actually be able to locate everyone in a situation like this one.

“I think you could say that they have a responsibility, a duty to the customer, certainly, to guide them through the customs process properly, not only just for the law, but also for security purposes”

He says this incident is reminiscent of something that happened in 2015 – involving some passengers on an Air Canada flight from Beijing to Vancouver. Those passengers were directed to the domestic luggage terminal. People who had checked their bags realized they were in the wrong place when their suitcases never appeared, and those passengers were ushered through customs.

“The problem was there were some passengers, apparently, who just had carry-on luggage, who just exited the airport. They were able to just leave from the domestic terminal.”

In that case, Russo says it took several days for all the passengers to be tracked down and screened, and changes were made in airport security processes as a result.

WestJet announces schedule for new service between London Heathrow and Calgary

New route to commence in March 2022, increasing global connectivity between Western Canada and Europe

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 1, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced route details for its new non-stop service to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), from the airline’s largest, global hub, Calgary International Airport. The new route provides access to London’s largest airport with close and rapid access to important destinations in London. Flights between the two global hubs are set to operate four-times weekly, beginning March 26, 2022 and are available to book on WestJet.com, today.

Details of WestJet’s service between Calgary and Heathrow:

RouteFrequencyStart Date
Calgary – HeathrowTuesday, Wednesday, Friday, SaturdayMarch 26 – October 28, 2022
Heathrow – CalgaryWednesday, Thursday, Saturday, SundayMarch 27 – October 29, 2022

From previous release

“As the airline with the most flights from Alberta, this is an important recovery milestone as we forge new connections between Canada and one of the world’s most sought-after global hubs,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “We continue to strengthen our network, offering more options for business and leisure travellers and these investments will expedite our industry’s recovery while ensuring Western Canada builds back from the pandemic more connected than ever before.”

As confidence in business and leisure travel continues to rise, WestJet’s newest route will operate this spring on the airline’s 787 Dreamliner. WestJet’s 787 service features the airline’s Business Cabin including lie-flat pods, dining on demand and elevated Premium and Economy Cabin options.

“We are committed to the expansion of our global hub in Calgary and supporting the recovery of many sectors who rely on travel and tourism,” continued Weatherill. “As the airline with the most non-stop European destinations from YYC, we are looking forward to guests benefitting from more options and increased connectivity for travel between Canada and the UK.”

With the addition of Heathrow to WestJet’s network this spring, WestJet will connect Calgary to 77 non-stop destinations throughout the year.  WestJet will also continue to offer non-stop flights between Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax to London, Gatwick.

Additional Quotes

“WestJet is a fantastic airline with a strong history of providing top-notch service and excellent value for money, making it a great fit for Heathrow. As travel begins to reopen, we look forward to working with WestJet to improve the UK’s connectivity with Canada and give passengers even more choice when flying across the Atlantic.”

– John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO

“WestJet’s new non-stop route from YYC to London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is welcomed by those looking to access the world’s premier financial and business centre and those eager for a direct connection to explore London’s culture and landmarks. We look forward to welcoming guests from across the pond to experience the traditional Indigenous lands and warm hospitality our region is known for.”

– Bob Sartor, President & CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority.

“Congratulations to WestJet for continuing to invest in new ways to connect Calgarians and our economy to the world. London Heathrow is a critical access point for business and leisure travellers and will be of great benefit to investors and tourists who want world class access to our region.”

– Jyoti Gondek, Mayor of Calgary

“Air access is key to our province’s economic recovery and growth of the tourism industry We look forward to welcoming back UK travellers and showcasing Alberta as a top destination.”

– David Goldstein, CEO Travel Alberta

“Having direct flight access to Heathrow, enhancing connectivity to London, a global capital market and business hub will further enhance Alberta’s competitiveness for investment and trade. This is also the latest signal to global investors of confidence in Alberta’s economy and economic recovery.  We look forward to putting these flights to good use bringing investors and business to our province who will bring with them capital and jobs for Albertans.”

– Rick Christiaanse, CEO, Invest Alberta Rick Christiaanse Invest Alberta

“WestJet’s non-stop service to the globally recognized London Heathrow Airport is great news for ensuring continued investment and talent attraction to our city as we work together to make Calgary the destination of choice for the world’s best entrepreneurs.”

– Brad Parry, Interim President & CEO, Calgary Economic Development.

About WestJet 

In 25 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 WestJet 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 program. 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 westjet.com

WestJet’s new boss takes control as demand for travel ramps up after long pandemic slowdown

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

ERIC ATKINS, TRANSPORTATION REPORTER | 29 November 2021

Harry Taylor, WestJet’s chief financial officer, becomes interim chief executive officer Monday.TODD KOROL/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

WestJet’s new top executive takes charge as the Calgary-based airline is ramping up after a lengthy slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harry Taylor, WestJet’s chief financial officer, becomes interim chief executive officer Monday at a crucial time for the country’s second-biggest airline – optimism, expectations and tensions have rarely been higher.

“What keeps me up at night is I worry about our people,” Mr. Taylor said in a phone interview from Calgary. “We have, this organization has been through as the whole world has been through a cataclysmic, catastrophic event. We were at the pointy edge, we laid off people – some permanently, some temporarily. Now we’re trying to rebuild.”

The airline is trying to hire 2,000 people to meet rising demand as travellers book flights to see family and friends or visit sun destinations again, even as pandemic rules and low staffing levels cause long lineups and frustrations at the airports.

As COVID-19 took hold in March, 2020, governments in Canada and around the world closed borders and imposed quarantines on those who had to travel. WestJet grounded 80 per cent of its 180-plane fleet and laid off almost two-thirds of its 14,000 flight attendants, pilots and other employees.

Shutdowns stretched into the first part of 2021, when WestJet was running at just 15 per cent of pre-COVID capacity.

The increase in seat sales and resumption of several routes, driven by greater vaccination rates and eased travel restrictions, began in the third quarter. Today, WestJet is operating at about 70-per-cent capacity, and has added dozens of destinations, including Mexico, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Seven thousand WestJet employees are on the job, short of the 9,000 the airline hopes to employ by the end of the year, said Mr. Taylor, who has been WestJet’s finance chief since 2015 and moves into the CEO’s office to replace Ed Sims. Mr. Sims retired after four years to return to his native New Zealand.

WestJet, owned by Onex Corp., is conducting a search for a permanent CEO, and Mr. Taylor said he plans to return to his finance role when the new boss arrives.

Before moving to WestJet, Mr. Taylor had a 20-year career in finance in Canada and the United States at Canadian Tire Corp., Holt Renfrew, Home Depot and PepsiCo. The father of two grown children was born in Winnipeg and moved to Toronto at age 9. He is a chartered accountant who studied at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario, where he earned an MBA.

Like his counterpart at Air Canada, he is unilingual. Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau ignited a controversy this month when he admitted he could not speak French, despite living in Montreal for 14 years.

“I do not speak French, at least, not very well … it’s been a long time regret of mine as a Canadian,” Mr. Taylor said.

The pandemic reshaped the airline business, forcing upon it deep losses, layers of regulations and costs associated with quickly screening and handling passengers in confined spaces while adhering to public-health rules. Passengers will continue to see more touchless check-ins and screenings, and mask requirements will persist for a long time, he predicted.

Working at an airline has become tougher, Mr. Taylorsaid, in part because passengers who are returning to the skies are frustrated by the shifting labyrinth of testing, vaccine and quarantine requirements, and long lines at security and boarding gates. Some passengers are also out of practice at flying, and have forgotten the usual rules, such as those about carry-on bags and liquids, he said.

“There is a tremendous pressure on our organization to deliver the service that we aspired to deliver to our guests. And that is to differentiate ourselves by being more caring and friendly. And yet we have guests who are frustrated. They haven’t travelled for a while. They are sometimes a little more emotional. And so they become very angry very quickly.”

This has led to more confrontations between employees and passengers.

Still, WestJet said it has flown millions of customers this year, and banned just 188 for not complying with mask-wearing rules. “We are trying at every turn to ensure that we make the travel experience easier, not more difficult for them, but unruly [passengers] are really a very, very low percentage,” WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said.

Domestic seat sales will rebound to pre-COVID levels by the summer, Mr. Taylor said, followed in the fall by Latin America and the Caribbean. “People are just saying, ‘I’m done. I’ve got to visit my friends. I’ve got to take that vacation. I’ve got to visit my family.’ All of the recovery we’re seeing is visiting friends and relatives or leisure travel.”

Cross-border and transatlantic routes are laggards, he said, mainly because of the varied and persistent pandemic travel restrictions. He added that business travel is another segment that is slow to rebound.

Air travel may hit pre-pandemic levels in 2022: WestJet Interim CEO

From BNN Bloomberg – link to source story and video

By David George-Cosh | 29 November 2021

The Close It is too early to tell if Omicron will have an impact on our recovery: WestJet Interim CEO Harry Taylor, interim president and CEO of WestJet Group, joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss his new appointment from CFO to CEO, and how the Omicron variant may impact the airline’s recovery moving forward.

Canadian airline travel is slowly recovering to pre-pandemic levels, although passengers may see higher fares as fuel prices reach new highs, according to the interim head of WestJet Airlines Ltd.

While Canadians may be feeling more comfortable flying again, WestJet interim President and Chief Executive Harry Taylor stated in an interview that more data on the new COVID-19 Omicron variant is needed before determining what kind of impact it could have on future air travel.

“We didn’t expect this development with Omicron and certainly before Friday, as we looked ahead, we were expecting the recovery to continue,” Taylor said.

“Our expectation is for a pandemic high in our traditional holiday peak season, followed by continuing recovery into next year. Omicron may have some effect on that – we’re not sure yet. It’s probably too early to tell.”

As COVID-19 cases tied to the variant begin to emerge, Canada announced last week that it will limit travel to southern Africa, including to South Africa, where scientists in that country were first to voice their concerns about the Omicron strain.

Taylor took over for Ed Sims on Monday as interim CEO as the company continues its search for a permanent chief executive. Taylor told BNN Bloomberg he plans to return to his role as chief financial officer after WestJet’s board selects a permanent successor.

Taylor said WestJet expects its domestic operations to return to pre-pandemic levels sometime this summer, while travel to the U.S. has lagged, but should pick up next year. He noted that bookings for sun destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean have been “extremely strong.”

According to Statistics Canada, roughly 2.9 million Canadians travelled by air in September, up from just 931,000 a year earlier, but well below the 6.9 million people who travelled in 2019. Canada’s airlines reported a load factor (which represents seats filled by customers) of just 67.8 per cent in September, which is below the high-80 per cent range that is typical for Canadian air travel, the StatsCan data showed.

Passengers booking flights may be in for sticker shock, though, when it comes to airfares. Taylor noted that fuel prices are at levels not seen since 2014 and while it takes six-to-nine months to factor that into the company’s costs, it eventually will be reflected with higher fares.

“What we need to do is mitigate it and at the same time look for the most effective way to use our fuel,” he said. Taylor noted that WestJet has a relatively young fleet of jets, making its planes more fuel-efficient than some of its peers, and it is investigating ways to minimize fuel burn during flights.

“Fare prices cannot immediately react [to rising fuel prices] and we don’t want to take fares up,” Taylor added. “So, we’ve got to find other ways to reduce costs to preserve our operating profit margin.”

WestJet announces Karl Schuster as Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer

CALGARY, AB, Nov. 29, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced the appointment of Karl Schuster, as the airline’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer (CLO). Schuster will join the WestJet executive leadership team in early 2022, following the completion of the immigration process.   

Karl Schuster, WestJet Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
Karl Schuster, WestJet Executive Vice-President and Chief Loyalty Officer (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Schuster has over 19 years of loyalty experience, including six years as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Velocity Frequent Flyer, Virgin Australia’s award-winning loyalty program. During his time at Virgin Australia, Schuster grew Velocity to be one of the largest loyalty programs in Australia, significantly increasing their annual revenue; increasing membership subscribers to 10 million, from their previous 5.3 million members; and growing partnerships with noteworthy brands across the country. Prior to his time at Velocity, Schuster lead multi-year loyalty programs for Qantas, British Airways and Malaysian Airlines and provided consulting advice to a diverse range of airlines in his nearly 15 years at Aimia Inc.

“Karl has an impressive history of driving exponential growth for a diverse range of loyalty programs and delivering results through innovation and strategy,” said Harry Taylor, WestJet Interim President and CEO. “We are looking forward to welcoming Karl to WestJet; his breadth of experience will elevate WestJet’s loyalty program to new heights.” 

The CLO is a newly created role for the airline, responsible for the execution of growing WestJet’s loyalty program, products, services and partnerships through innovation and leadership. 

“As WestJet transitions from recovery to expansion, the airline is making significant investments in its already successful loyalty program, and I am thrilled to be joining the team at such a pivotal moment in time,” said Schuster. “As WestJet builds back stronger, there is incredible runway in front of WestJet Rewards and we will be working to bring guests more benefits and privileges through exciting and innovative loyalty enhancements. I am pleased to be joining WestJet’s high performing loyalty team alongside d’Arcy Monaghan, WestJet Vice-President, Loyalty Programs and I look forward to working with him and the team to take our program to new heights.” 

About WestJet Rewards 
Members of the WestJet Rewards program earn and redeem WestJet dollars on flights, vacation packages, and more. Members can maximize their earning power by adding a WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard to their wallet and turning everyday purchases into WestJet dollars. WestJet Rewards Platinum, Gold and Silver members enjoy free checked bags, seat selection, lounge access, priority airport services, complimentary upgrades and more.

About WestJet  
In 25 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 WestJet 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 program. 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 westjet.com.  

Harry Taylor becomes interim President and CEO of WestJet Group

CALGARY, AB, Nov. 29, 2021 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group today announced that Harry Taylor has officially assumed the role of interim President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Harry Taylor, WestJet Interim President and CEO

The WestJet group announced Taylor as the interim President and CEO on September 15, 2021, following news of Ed Sims retirement announced on June 9, 2021.

“I am honoured to take on the interim role of CEO at this pivotal time for the WestJet Group, and am focused on our relentless commitment to safety above all while ensuring continuity for our recovery, as we rebuild our airlines for our guests and our people,” said Harry Taylor, interim President and CEO. “By the end of the year, we will return our entire fleet to service for the peak holiday travel season, connecting loved ones and fulfilling long awaited vacations plans. I look forward to leading our organization through this crucial phase of our recovery, while we continue our search for a permanent CEO.” 

From previous releases
“I am extremely pleased Harry has agreed to take on this interim role,” said the WestJet Group Board Chair Chris Burley. “Our global search for a permanent CEO continues, and on behalf of WestJet and the board, we are grateful Harry has stepped up to help us through this critical transition.”

Harry Taylor joined WestJet in 2015 as Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). During this time, he led the airline’s inaugural U.S. bond issue, negotiated the purchase of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing MAX aircraft, and was instrumental in the sale of WestJet to Onex. Through the pandemic, Harry led the Finance team in managing WestJet’s liquidity to ensure sustainability with little to no revenue coming in.

“I want to thank Ed for his contributions to WestJet’s strategy and growth initiatives over the past four years,” said Chris Burley, Chairman of WestJet’s board of directors. “Ed has led WestJet through the worst crisis in aviation history and will see us through to the end of 2021. We owe our relative strength and stability in no small measure to Ed’s leadership and steady hand. On a personal note, we’re pleased that Ed will be able to rejoin his family in New Zealand at the end of the year.”    

About WestJet 

In 25 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 WestJet 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 program. 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 westjet.com

WestJet Eyes New Service to Spokane with Regional Subsidiary

From Airline Geeks – link to source story

A WestJet Link Saab 340
A WestJet Link Saab 340. (Photo: WestJet)

By Winston Shek | November 28, 2021

If all goes as planned with the application, Spokane will receive a daily flight to Calgary and a daily flight to Vancouver, allowing for the airport’s first scheduled international air service in more than a decade. From 1997 to 2004, the airport received its only international service from Calgary on Canadian regional carrier Central Mountain Air operating under the Air Canada code via Beech 1900D turboprop 18-seater aircraft. Earlier in the 1990s, United Airlines and now-defunct AirBC serviced Calgary from Spokane.

This move marks Spokane’s third newest airline slated to launch service at the airport. One of the U.S.’s latest airline startups, aha!, plans to start service later this year to Reno, Nev. on its Embraer E145 aircraft. Meanwhile, Sun Country plans to launch summer-seasonal services to its hub in Minneapolis on its Boeing 737s.

During the pandemic, Spokane benefitted from three new routes, including two new services to Las Vegas and Phoenix on Allegiant and a new American Airlines flight to Chicago. However, Spokane will lose some Frontier Airlines service as the carrier resumes its flying in August 2022.

WestJet Expansion

It is unclear when WestJet will commence these flights, though this will mark WestJet Link’s only service to the U.S., not to be confused with WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore.

WestJet will launch its flights with Pacific Coastal Airlines’ Saab 340s, holding a total of 34 passengers in a 1-2 seating configuration. Currently, WestJet Link operates three Saab 340s, though a total of six Saab 340s can fly on the route.

WestJet Link was launched in 2017 to boost regional connectivity to WestJet’s hubs in Vancouver and Calgary. The regional airline started service in March 2018, expanding to several smaller regional destinations in Alberta and British Columbia like Medicine Hat. WestJet’s other regional subsidiary, WestJet Encore, operates the larger Bombardier Dash 8-400 to larger cities and some transborder hops to destinations like Boston or Nashville.

Currently, WestJet services 22 airports in the mainland U.S., including five destinations each in California and Florida. This winter, the Calgary-based carrier plans to add three routes to the mainland U.S., including a flight to its newest destination, Miami. In the Pacific Northwest, WestJet services Seattle and Portland, Ore., making Spokane a possible third destination in the region.

In addition to its moves in the U.S., WestJet plans to embark on a transatlantic expansion. Last week, the carrier inked a codeshare deal with Air Transat to expand the breadth of its European network. From Toronto, WestJet will launch new services to Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland with its Boeing 737 MAX, while from Calgary, Westjet will add new services to London and Rome, the latter of which was previously scheduled to launch in May 2020.

The WestJet Group introduces comprehensive COVID-19 testing program for guests through AZOVA

Approved self-administered test kits and expansive AZOVA network of in person testing locations for easy and  convenient testing across most WestJet and Swoop destinations 

Easy-to-use self-testing options also available for convenient and quick results that can be taken with guests and used in any destination to meet pre-entry PCR requirements

CALGARY, AB, Nov. 26, 2021 /CNW/ – The WestJet Group today announced a significant expansion to its COVID-19 testing program through AZOVA, a leading digital health technology platform, giving guests the confidence to book their holiday travel knowing all their COVID testing requirements are available through a convenient and easy-to-use site at https://www.azova.com/westjetswoop/.

With AZOVA’s app-based program, guests have access to a vast network of approved testing locations across Canada and the majority of WestJet transborder and international destinations. Additionally, AZOVA offers rapid molecular self-administered testing options with video proctoring services that allow for testing and validation certificates. Guests can take these tests from the comfort of home, or in any destination to meet the Government of Canada’s pre-entry PCR test requirements AZOVA’s COVID-19 testing services meet entry requirements for each destination and enable travellers to take self-administered or in-person tests prior to departure.

“As many of our guests look to book holiday travel outside Canada for the first time in almost two years, it’s critical that we provide our guests with the peace of mind knowing that all the COVID testing requirements they will face throughout their journey can be conveniently booked, conducted and stored in the AZOVA app,” said Dr. Tammy McKnight, WestJet’s Chief Medical Officer. “We’ve heard from our guests that pre-departure testing, and entry requirements are confusing, complex and inconsistent. We are confident that AZOVA’s easy-to-use self-testing options and network of testing locations will give guests the confidence they need to plan their next flight or vacation.”

“COVID testing requirements can be overwhelming and confusing with different requirements for every destination. AZOVA provides an end to end and seamless solution to enable guests to quickly identify what test is needed for any destination and to quickly purchase or schedule the tests that are needed anywhere in the world through a single application. We are thrilled to be working with WestJet and Swoop to bring this solution to guests and travellers everywhere,” said Cheryl Lee Eberting, MD, CEO and Founder of AZOVA. “Once you have received your test results, enter your AZOVA Credential ID into the AZOVA WestJet and Swoop site and receive a travel clearance on the AZOVA app for your destination. You can simply show your travel clearance at the gate with no paperwork and no confusing forms required.”    

Portable Self-Administered Testing & In-Destination Lab Testing

Guests who are travelling outside of Canada for a period of more than 72 hours after November 30th will be required to present a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their flight. AZOVA offers an at-home RT-LAMP test, called the Lucira Check-It COVID-19 test kit with video proctoring which can be purchased and delivered to your home in Canada. These tests can be taken in the comfort of your home to meet the entrance requirements of most destinations, and can be packed and taken with you to be taken in destination to meet the requirements for return travel back to Canada.

In addition to availability in Canada, AZOVA also offers the Lucira Check-It COVID-19 test kit to be purchased and delivered to your destination in the United States.    

Self-administered tests can be purchased at https://www.azova.com/westjetswoop/at-home/.

When booking flights for travel outside Canada, guests can visit the AZOVA’s website and select their destination to understand what testing is required and can either book and in person test through AZOVA’s comprehensive lab network or order the self-administered testing kits, where applicable.

About WestJet 

In 25 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 WestJet 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 promise. 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 westjet.com