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WestJet to launch new, cheaper carrier
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 11:11AM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:43PM MDT
Calgary-based WestJet is announcing plans to start up a new, low-cost carrier aimed at making air travel cheaper for Canadians.
The service, that hasn’t been named yet, is expected to take to the skies sometime later in 2017.
It will start with a fleet of 10 high-density planes designed by the airline.
There are few details released so far, but the airline says it will provide Canadians with cheaper, no-frills travel options.
Officials with WestJet say they are working to establish the new airline in response to the popularity of ultra low cost carriers (ULCCs) around the world.
"The why behind it really does look at the new category of air travel around the world and that is the ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) and it's a completely unbundled product. So, rather than have services, products or amenities included in your fare, everything gets removes so you have a much lower fare in the market. Each traveler can decide whether they want to include something in the price of their ticket or not," said Richard Bartrem, WestJet's marketing communications VP.
WestJet says it will involve unbundling services and products to lower fares.
"Typically what you would see is more seats put onto an aircraft, and the ability to decide what you want to pay for and not want to pay for. It does drive lower fares to the public." Bartrem said.
There is no information on what routes will get the low cost option nor where it will be headquartered.
"From an operational standpoint, we could put this anywhere in the country and start service there," Bartrem said.
How much the fares will be depends heavily on the tax and fee structure set by the Canadian government, he said.
"That is going to be an economic reality of working in Canada, given the tax and fee structure that we have. Having said that, we are going to have to take a look at the cost structure for this product which are, in turn, going to dictate what the retail prices are going to be."
He adds that there is still a lot to do before the airline officially opens for business.
"This is going to be a new brand so we have some naming to do. We have some aircraft to paint, so there is an awful lot of work that needs to be done between now and the end of the year but we're excited that this creates more choice for the consumer."
It will also need to secure approval from pilots and regulators.
The airline currently serves 21 countries.