Canada’s WestJet completed its purchase of Sunwing and Sunwing Vacations on Monday, part of WestJet’s larger strategic pivot towards leisure travelers.
Sunwing will continue to operate as independent airline for the foreseeable future, but could be integrated into WestJet or its budget subsidiary Swoop in the future. Sunwing Vacations is to become part of the WestJet’s Vacations Business.
“Investing further in leisure and sun flying across Canada is a critical driver for growth,” WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said in a statement. “It brings me great pleasure to welcome Sunwing to the group … Together, we will strategically enhance our sun and leisure offerings to bring even more affordable and accessible travel opportunities to Canadians.”
Speaking on the airline’s new strategy with Airline Weekly in April, Von Hoensbroech said: “We have decided that we need to refocus WestJet on those things that made WestJet successful in the first place. And this is everything that is centered around Western Canada, this is everything centered around leisure flying for all of Canada, for East and West, and it’s around being a low-cost brand and low-cost airline.”
Sunwing boosts WestJet’s presence on routes to leisure destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico from Canada’s big eastern cities — Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto — according to Diio by Cirium schedules. These are markets where WestJet has retrenched during the past year as part of its pivot towards more flying in Western Canada.
In the second quarter, WestJet and Swoop together, and Sunwing each have a 22 percent share of airline seats between Canada and the Caribbean and Mexico, Diio data show. Canada’s largest carrier, Air Canada, has a 24 percent share. The merger will give WestJet a 44 percent share of this lucrative market.
The value of WestJet’s acquisition of Sunwing was not disclosed.