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Wednesday,  June 12, 2024 12:21 PM 

WestJet delays integration of Sunwing Airlines to April 2025


WestJet delays integration of Sunwing Airlines to April 2025
WestJet is delaying its planned integration of Sunwing Airlines to April 2025. (File photos)
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 DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

WestJet is delaying its planned integration of Sunwing Airlines to April 2025, according to a report by the Canadian Press.

As PAX previously reported, the WestJet Group’s initial plan was to consolidate Sunwing Airlines’ 737 aircraft with that of WestJet's by October 26 later this year.

This long-term strategy, which will also lead to the reconfiguration of Sunwing aircraft, is about “enhancing our ability to meet the diverse travel and product needs of all Canadians," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of the WestJet Group, in a statement last year.

WestJet delays Sunwing integration

But the process will now take an additional six months to complete, with pilot training (and shortages) cited as one reason for the extension. 

READ MORE: WestJet to integrate Sunwing, reconfigure aircraft; tour op unaffected, says Dawson

This, according to Rick Jones, WestJet's interim head of route planning, who spoke at a conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday (May 20), CP reports.

Union issues may also be interrupting the schedule. In a statement to CP, airline spokeswoman Madison Kruger said the WestJet Group intends to integrate as much of Sunwing Airlines as possible by the original October 2024 date.

As well, unionized operational team members will be integrated in “a phased approach to meet training and aircraft transition schedules by April 27, 2025," Kruger told the outlet.

The WestJet Group completed its acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations in May 2023. (File photos)

Completing the integration in April 2025 will allow for a singular Summer 2025 network schedule, WestJet spokesperson Julia Kaiser told PAX in a follow-up email on Wednesday. 

"Both WestJet Airlines and Sunwing Airlines will continue business as usual for their Winter 2024/2025 operation schedules. The updated integration timeline has no impact on Sunwing Vacations Group and its associated vacations brands," Kaiser noted.

The WestJet Group completed its acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations in May 2023.

The transaction, first announced in March 2022, combines the two Canadian aviation and leisure companies, promising greater choice, competitive airfares and increased direct access to sun destinations.

READ MORE: WestJet to densify cabins, serve “broader spectrum of guests” following Swoop closure

Sunwing Airlines is the second brand to be consolidated into WestJet’s mainline. Last October, WestJet completed the dissolution, and integration, of its ultra-low-cost carrier Swoop. 

Plan to densify cabins

The integrations of both Swoop and Sunwing aircraft will result in reconfigurations – a move that will densify cabins to distribute costs across more seats.

READ MORE: Sunwing/Swoop integration will enhance affordability, says WestJet CEO; critics divided

As PAX first reported, WestJet’s 737-800s and MAX 8s, including legacy WestJet, Sunwing and Swoop planes, will be reworked to feature 180 seats – up six seats from the current configuration – including 12 Premium seats.

A slide showing WestJet's plans to reconfigure aircraft. (Supplied)

WestJet's Max 10s – there are 70 on order for the next five years – will also add 13 seats, totalling 212.

“We will not segment our guests by airline [like through Swoop], but segment our guests within the aircraft,” von Hoensbroech said at a Toronto Region Board of Trade meeting last October. “For a market like Canada, that makes most sense.”

The WestJet Group says the integration of Sunwing Airlines will have no impact on Sunwing Vacations Group and its associated brands.


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