WestJet announced (24-Jun-2013) the launch of WestJet Encore on 24-Jun-2103, with the start-up to initially service Nanaimo, Fort St. John, Vancouver, Victoria and Saskatoon using Bombardier Q400 equipment. WestJet Encore president Ferio Pugliese said: "Our inaugural flights across western Canada today represent the future of enhanced connectivity for Canadians. WestJet Encore is here to liberate smaller communities from the high cost of regional air travel while continuing to provide every guest with our award winning culture of care. Much as we did back in 1996 with national carrier WestJet, WestJet Encore hopes to make regional air travel easier, more accessible and less expensive. Strategically, providing access to more Canadians as well as using WestJet Encore to fly new non-stops and enhance our frequency between markets will not only enable incremental growth from new markets but also enhance our overall value for the business market." [more - original PR]
WestJet launches WestJet Encore
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Both airlines are beginning 2017 with higher valuations as Canada’s economic growth should settle towards 2% in 2017. Although the country’s economic growth forecast is not stellar, it is at least stable. Canada’s province of Alberta is climbing out of a recession after the region’s economic weakness had created challenges for Canadian airlines during the last year.
Two aspiring Canadian ULCCs are attempting to launch operations in 2017, joining NewLeaf Travel – which has recently cancelled new routes after encroachment by WestJet. Canada’s first low cost airline has pledged to compete fiercely with the start-ups, and its actions are reinforcing that declaration.
WestJet forges crucial deal with pilots for long haul expansion, but unionisation threat looms large
Canada’s second largest airline WestJet has eliminated uncertainty over its widebody expansion as 2016 has come to a close, reaching a deal with its pilots that allows the company to move forward in adding Boeing 767 widebodies to its fleet. The latest agreement follows a rejection of an earlier agreement by Westjet's pilots in Nov-2016, which placed in doubt the company’s ability to fully execute its long haul ambitions.
At the same time as pilots rejected the previous offer the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) was amping up efforts to unionise WestJet’s pilots. Independent entities have attempted to unionise the airline’s pilots in the past, but ALPA’s scale and resources offer a different level of heft to a potentially unionised workforce at WestJet.
Although WestJet can now move forward in crystallising its long haul strategy, the threat of unionisation among the company’s pilots and flight attendants looms large, and the airline could be a prime target for larger, more powerful unions.