Canadian airline WestJet announced that it would acquire another Canadian airline, the low-cost carrier Sunwing. WestJet will also acquire Sunwing’s vacation package arm, Sunwing Vacations.
Here’s what you need to know.
WestJet Acquires Sunwing
WestJet is a relatively new airline, launching in Canada in 1996 with just 3 airplanes serving 5 destinations. Today, the airline flies to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe, and more than 22 million passengers fly with the airline yearly.
The airline says the merger will give “access to more competitive airfares and affordable vacation packages,” adding that the merger will add increased capacity and dedicate seasonal aircraft to operate year-round.
Sunwing flies from Canada to more than 45 destinations across the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Florida. It primarily flies Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
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“This is an exciting moment for WestJet, Sunwing and Canada’s travel industry,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, WestJet’s CEO. “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,” his statement continued.
“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,” Sunwing’s CEO Stephen Hunter added.
WestJet said that the deal — subject to regulatory approvals — is expected to close in late 2022.
WestJet has been on something of an expansion in recent months as it tries to compete with Air Canada, the country’s largest domestic and international airline.
In November 2021, WestJet announced a codeshare agreement with Air Transat, meaning travelers can book a 1-ticket itinerary on flights with both airlines.
WestJet doesn’t have a large European footprint and serves just a handful of destinations, but the codeshare agreement means WestJet passengers will have access to Air Transat routes as the airline flies to more than 2 dozen destinations across Europe.
This merger is pretty good news for travelers, especially for WestJet passengers who want access to some of the destinations Sunwing serves.
As WestJet wants to be seen as a more prominent player among Canada’s airlines, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more acquisitions down the line.
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Ethan McArthur via Unsplash