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Monday,  February 26, 2024 3:58 AM 

Expect "lots of bargain options" this winter & next summer, says WestJet CEO

Expect "lots of bargain options" this winter & next summer, says WestJet CEO
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech photographed in October at a speaking engagement at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. (File photo/supplied)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Canadians can expect to see more deals on air tickets this winter and next summer, says WestJet’s CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Canada, published Thursday (Nov. 23), von Hoensbroech said the pent-up demand for travel has moderated while airlines improve their productivity.

“There are markets that have seen strong pent-up demand that drove pricing, because there was an imbalance between supply and demand, the most prominent being on (transatlantic routes) over the summer,” von Hoensbroech told the news outlet.

Demand, he said, is now more aligned with capacity, which is cooling air fare prices (which, earlier this year, and in 2022, skyrocketed).

READ MORE: Airline ticket prices drop 19% amid less demand, more flights, says StatCan

The WestJet Group is also overcoming its pilot shortage, he said, which is bringing down operational costs.

“I think there will be lots of bargain options for this winter and also next summer,” said von Hoensbroech.

von Hoensbroech comments come after Statistics Canada reported a price drop in airfares. 

In a consumer price index (CPI) released on Tuesday (Nov. 21), the agency said the price of air transportation dropped 19.4 per cent last month compared with October 2022.

The figure follows a roughly 21 per cent year-over-year drop in September and a 20 per cent decrease in August, after last year’s post-COVID spike in demand last year outpaced airlines’ capacity to meet it, resulting in higher fares.

Airfare prices also declined four per cent on a monthly basis in October, which is when prices usually get higher ahead of the holiday season, the data shows.

READ MORE: WestJet CEO addresses closure of agent booking channel, APPR, Iceland & future strategy

The travel industry has roared back this year, with seat capacity among major Canadian carriers at 92 per cent of 2019 levels, according to aviation data firm Cirium.

But prices are coming down – a trend that WestJet’s CEO acknowledged last month during a speaking engagement held at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. 

Air tickets, in general, are not rising in price, von Hoensbroech said during a fireside chat at the event. 

“Domestic flying in Canada is actually cheaper than was pre-pandemic,” the CEO told the audience.

von Hoensbroech pointed to rising competition in the market.

“There are lots and lots of other airlines in the market and this is naturally bringing down ticket prices,” he said. “As to how sustainable this will be is to be seen.”

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