WestJet launches new POS system
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Canada’s government paves the way for ULCCs Enerjet and Jetlines to jump into the marketplace
Two of Canada’s aspiring ultra-low cost airlines made a major breakthrough in Nov-2016 after they were granted exemptions from foreign ownerships restrictions, which allow foreign entities to hold up to 49% of Enerjet and Jetlines. Now Enerjet has taken on some heft by partnering with the global ultra-low cost airline investor Indigo Partners, which was instrumental in Spirit Airlines’ ULCC transition and now owns the ULCC Frontier Airlines. Another new Canadian ULCC, NewLeaf Travel, boasts former Spirit Airlines CEO as chairman of the board.
It is tough to predict how those influential backers will affect the outcome of efforts by the new crop of ULCCs to successfully execute the model in Canada. Although Canada is one of the few mature aviation markets without a true ultra-low cost competitor, the nuances of the Canadian domestic market could create challenges for the long-term viability of NewLeaf, Enerjet and Jetlines in the marketplace.
Jetlines and Enerjet, operating as FlyToo, aim to debut in Canada’s market during 2017. Unsurprisingly the country’s two airlines Air Canada and WestJet plan to compete vigorously with the start-ups, with WestJet vowing to defend its franchise and match the fares of its new competitors.
WestJet prepares to lock in unit revenue growth to outpace cost inflation in 2017
Canada’s second largest airline WestJet believes it can attain a positive unit revenue result in 1Q2017, joining many other North American airlines in outlining specific timeframes for the reversal of negative trends. Unlike performance of most airlines in the region that are predicting sequential improvements from 3Q2016 to 4Q2016, WestJet’s performance will worsen during the last three months of 2016. The factors driving WestJet’s deeper unit revenue decreases include timing of the year-end holidays, competitive capacity pressure in warm weather markets, and fare matching of the start-up competitor ULCC NewLeaf.
Although WestJet believes it will make an important turn in its unit revenue performance in early 2017, it faces some cost inflation for the full year as it adds a larger number of smaller Bombardier Q400 turboprops, which have higher operating costs but in fact also help drive bottom line profitability. Although at this point WestJet cannot forecast its unit revenue performance for FY2017, its goal is to post unit revenue growth that outpaces unit cost increases.