WestJet looks to buy smaller planes, challenge Air Canada
CALGARY - WestJet wants to buy a fleet of smaller planes and launch a regional airline that would challenge Air Canada in Canadian cities such as Lethbridge, a major culture shift for a carrier married to 737s for the past 16 years.
If approved by its employees, WestJet said it could be operating "a sister company" with about 40 turboprop planes as early as next year.
Purchasing a new fleet would cost about $1 billion, according to some estimates, but adding planes to short-haul routes would help funnel more passengers onto the airline's existing 71-city network in what CEO Gregg Saretsky referred to as a natural evolution.
"How they grow that domestic market share has been the strategic question," said Karl Moore, associate professor at McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management. "They could use this as a feeder onto other routes."
But he added that diversifying its fleet moves WestJet from the simplicity of a model with one plane that every pilot can fly and every mechanic can repair to a more complex arrangement.
Read full article: Calgary Herald, January 17, 2012