WestJet announced it has transitioned from OpenSkies to the SabreSonic reservation system, facilitating moves by the carrier to codeshare with other carriers (Dow Jones, 20-Oct-2009).
WestJet changes reservation systems
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Air Canada’s 1Q2017 margin pressure and lower ROIC targets trigger market trepidation
Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada, is working through a multi year effort to grow its international footprint and cut costs. The company’s strategy has entailed higher than average capacity growth compared with its North American global network airline peers. Its long haul push has resulted in growing stage lengths and yield pressure; but Air Canada’s EBITDAR margin, the preferred metric in which the company measures its performance, has remained well within its established targets.
The company’s capacity should continue to expand in the double digit range during 2017 as it adds more Boeing 787 widebody jets and plans additional new route introductions. Its stage length should continue to grow in 2017, which means yields will remain under pressure. Air Canada’s capacity growth should moderate in 2018 as several initiatives it has undertaken during the last few years reach maturity.
Air Canada has been reasonably successful in growing its valuation during its large scale capacity growth, but a downward revision in ROIC targets and warnings of lower EBITDAR margins for 1Q2017 are triggering some pressure on its stock price. For now, markets are not quite reassured by Air Canada’s pledges that it will still meet its stated annual EBITDAR margins in 2017.
WestJet positive about its revenue performance as it works to shore up falling returns
Canada’s WestJet is maintaining a reasonable level of confidence that its unit revenue growth will outpace cost inflation in early 2017, as it attains positive unit revenue in 1Q2017 for the first time in eight quarters. Improving conditions in the province of Alberta and growing ancillary revenue are helping to lift WestJet’s unit revenues in early 2017.
WestJet’s return on invested capital has been falling during the last few months, dropping out of its targeted range of 13% to 16%. The airline is not offering a specific timeframe to post an improved ROIC performance, but believes a better operating environment in Alberta should create a favourable scenario to attain targeted return levels.
After WestJet’s pilots endorsed a new deal in late 2016 that allows for the expansion of the airline’s widebody operations, speculation grew about a potential aircraft order from the company in the not too distant future. But WestJet is taking a cautious approach to its widebody evaluations, as current capital expenditures could reach CAD920 million (USD703 million) in 2017 and investors are looking for definitive progress in restoring historical ROIC performance.