Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


WestJet Closes Sunwing Deal

10 months ago

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.”

A Sunwing plane in Santa Clara, Cuba

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.


WestJet’s Proposed Sunwing Deal Raises Competitive Concerns

1 year ago

Canada’s Competition Bureau has potentially thrown cold water on WestJet’s proposed purchase of leisure and tour competitor Sunwing Airlines.

In its report Wednesday, the regulator said the deal “would likely result in increased prices, less choice and decreases in service for Canadians.” It identified 31 routes between Canada and the Caribbean and Mexico where competition would likely decrease as a result of the merger.

WestJet responded Wednesday by thanking the Competition Bureau for the report, and emphasizing the fact that it is only “advisory and non-binding.”

“We look forward to bringing this transaction to life for the benefit of Canadian travelers, communities and employees,” the Calgary-based airline said.

Canada’s Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, will issue a final decision on the deal.

Two Sunwing aircraft at the Guatemala City airport
(Roberto Zuñiga/Flickr)

WestJet has said that, if the deal is approved, it would keep the Sunwing brand while merging Sunwing Vacations and WestJet Vacations into a new vacation division. And since announcing the transaction in March, WestJet has unveiled plans to shrink in eastern Canada — where Sunwing is strongest — and focus its own operations in western Canada.

WestJet hopes to close the purchase of Sunwing by next spring.

Read the Competition Bureau Report


Canada to Lift Last Covid, Mask Restrictions

1 year ago

Canada will end all entry restrictions on October 1, with major national airlines Air Canada and WestJet welcoming the change.

Gone are requirements that certain travelers provide proof of vaccination, undergo pre- or post-arrival testing, or quarantine or isolate after arrival, the Canadian government said on Monday. Fully vaccinated travelers have not been subject to most of these rules since March 1. The country also lifted mask requirements for planes and trains.

Toronto CN Tower Skyline
(Can Pac Swire/Flickr)

“Air Canada welcomes the removal of these restrictions,” Air Canada Chief Operating Officer Craig Landry said. “We believe it will greatly facilitate travel, help to continue stabilizing the country’s air transport sector and support Canada’s economy.”

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech echoed Landry’s comments in a separate statement, adding that the “announcement aligns with the travel policies of other major nations.”

International airline seats to Canada is down 19 percent compared to 2019 in September, according to Diio by Cirium schedules. For comparison, international seats to the U.S. — where travel restrictions were eased months ago — are down just 15 percent.