News / Calgary

'We have capacity': YYC CEO welcomes new WestJet's discount airline

The Calgary-based air company is looking to break into the ultra-low-cost market with a new product

Looking for a super cheap flight? Westjet is launching an alternative for you.

Metro File Photo

Looking for a super cheap flight? Westjet is launching an alternative for you.

Calgary’s airline sweetheart is going back to its low-cost roots.

On Thursday, the company announced they would be launching a new discount carrier by the end of the year. It came as a surprise to YYC International Airport CEO Robert Sartor.

“We have capacity, that’s for sure, but wow,” said Sartor. “WestJet’s roots were in low-cost travel, the notion of ultra-low cost has changed.”

He added that it’s an interesting notion that he certainly didn’t see coming, but extended a kudos to the Alberta-based company calling it a courageous and creative move.

“We have built WestJet from its low-cost regional roots into a renowned international airline,” co-founder Clive Beddoe said in a release issued Thursday. “Today it’s all about disrupting at the price-sensitive end of the market.”

WestJet is still waiting on approval from regulators, but plans to launch with the 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, they describe as a high-density plane.

These ultra-low-cost carriers are able to tack on extra fees to make their airfare cheaper. Operations like Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air will charge for beverages, preferred seating and printing boarding passes.

“The worldview on low-cost airlines has changed since the launch of WestJet,” CEO Gregg Saretsky said. “The complete unbundling of services and products in order to lower fares has created the ultra-low-cost carrier category and our new airline will provide Canadians a cheap and cheerful flying experience from a company with a proven track record.”

Westjet's new carrier would compete with NewLeaf, a Winnipeg-based low-cost service that launched last year. Chief rival Air Canada launched its own discount airline, Rouge, in 2013.

Sartor said he’ll be giving Saretsky a call soon, perhaps to discuss Calgary as a western hub.

With files from Andrew Fifield.

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