WestJet announces intent to launch ultra-low-cost carrier

CALGARY, April 20, 2017 /CNW/ - WestJet today announced its intention to launch a new, ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) in Canada subject to agreement with its pilots and any required regulatory approvals. Service is expected to start in late 2017 with an initial fleet of 10 high-density Boeing 737-800s designed by the airline that first brought low-cost air travel to Canada in 1996. The ULCC will provide Canadians with no-frills, lower-cost travel options.

"We have built WestJet from its low-cost, regional roots into a renowned, international airline with service to 21 countries and today it's all about disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market," said Clive Beddoe, co-founder of WestJet and Chair of the Board of the Directors. "Launching a ULCC will broaden WestJet's growth opportunities and open new market segments by offering more choice to those Canadians looking for lower fares."

"The worldview on low-cost airlines has changed since the launch of WestJet in 1996 and we are responding," commented Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO. "The complete unbundling of services and products in order to lower fares for the price-sensitive traveller has created the ULCC category and our new airline will provide Canadians a pro-competitive, cheap and cheerful flying experience from a company with a proven track record."

Caution regarding forward-looking information
Certain information set forth in this news release is "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, information respecting: WestJet's intention to launch a new ULCC; the in-service date of the ULCC; and the impact of the ULCC, including that the ULCC will broaden WestJet's growth opportunities, open new market segments and provide a pro-competitive, cheap and cheerful flying experience.

The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on certain material factors and assumptions, including without limitation: WestJet's current forecasts and strategy; the current and expected demand environment and general economic and industry conditions; the utilization of WestJet's fleet and contraction arrangements in respect thereof; expectations respecting fleet maintenance; the forward-curve for jet fuel prices; and the expected exchange rate of the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar.

By its nature, forward-looking information is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond WestJet's control. WestJet may be required to alter its current business strategy with respect to the ULCC and/or the timing and manner of implementation thereof and there can be no guarantee as to the nature or impact of such alterations. Further, the launch of the ULCC may not have the impact currently anticipated by WestJet. The risks and uncertainties that may impact WestJet and the launch and success of the ULCC, include but are not limited to: changes in guest demand; changes in fuel prices; delays in aircraft delivery; significant maintenance events; changes in general economic and industry conditions; changes in the competitive environment; challenges to WestJet's ability to effectively implement and maintain its critical systems; and other factors and risks described in WestJet's public reports and filings. Readers are urged to consult the risks set forth in WestJet's annual information form and management's discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2016, which are each available under WestJet's profile at sedar.com, for important additional information.

Readers are cautioned that undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking information as actual results may vary materially from the forward-looking information provided. WestJet does not undertake to update, correct or revise any forward-looking information as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable law.

About WestJet
We are proud to be Canada's most trusted airline, powered by an award-winning culture of care and recognized as one of the country's top employers. WestJet, and our regional airline, WestJet Encore, offer scheduled service to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Through our partnerships with airlines representing every major region of the world, we offer our guests more than 150 destinations in more than 21 countries. Leveraging WestJet's extensive network, flight schedule and remarkable guest experience, WestJet Vacations delivers affordable, flexible travel experiences with a variety of accommodation options for every guest. Members of our WestJet Rewards program earn WestJet dollars on flights, vacation packages and more. Our members use WestJet dollars towards the purchase of WestJet flights and vacations packages on any day, at any time, to any WestJet destination with no blackout periods  ̶  even on seat sales. For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.  

Recent recognition includes:
2017 Best Airline in Canada and Travellers' Choice Winner Mid-Sized and Low Cost Airlines – North America (TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards for Airlines)
2016 Canada's Most Trusted Airline (Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria)
2016 Canada's most reputable company for Corporate Social Responsibility (Reputation Institute)
2016/2015/2014/2013/2012 Ranked top three for Canadian Brands (Canadian Business Magazine)
2016/2015/2014/2013 WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard ranked #1 in Canada (MoneySense magazine)
2015/2011/2010/2008/2007/2006/2005 Canada's Most Admired Corporate Culture (Waterstone Human Capital)
2015 Best Employers in Canada (Aon Hewitt)

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SOURCE WestJet

For further information: Media contacts: To contact WestJet media relations, please email media@westjet.com.

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