WestJet stated (16-Jan-2012) it is considering the launch of a new short-haul, regional airline as early as 2013 using a fleet of approximately 40 turboprop aircraft. President and CEO Gregg Saretsky stated the carrier's next action is to meet with employees throughout Jan-2012 to gain feedback on WestJet's plan to launch the regional carrier, which would place it into direct competition with Air Canada. [more - original PR]
WestJet: "As we've said on many occasions before, we have regularly evaluated this strategy. A short-haul aircraft combined with WestJet's brand, balance sheet strength and low-cost structure will allow WestJet to profitably accomplish four main goals: Introduce WestJet's friendly and caring service to many smaller communities who have asked for our service; optimize the size of aircraft to efficiently increase frequency; create new connections between existing WestJet markets; and build additional feed to our current 71-city network so that we can continue to profitably grow and add shareholder value," CEO and president, Gregg Saretsky.