broken clouds
May 16, 2008 | General

CALGARY, Alberta, February 5, 1996 — WestJet Airlines is pleased to announce that as of 4 o’clock today (MST) their reservation center will be officially open for business and that WestJet Airlines will commence commercial flight operations within western Canada on Thursday, February 29, 1996. On this day, WestJet will become Canada’s first low cost, low fare, scheduled airline.

WestJet will be providing jet service to Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna at fares that range between 50 – 70 percent below those that have traditionally existed on these routes. WestJet has modeled itself after successful low cost carriers Southwest Airlines, Morris Air and ValuJet. WestJet’s everyday low fares between Edmonton and Winnipeg start from just $79, between Calgary and Vancouver from $59, between Calgary and Edmonton from just $29, and between Edmonton and Winnipeg from $79, all on a one-way basis. These fares are not introductory seat sale prices but represent low fares that will be offered year round on WestJet.

The airline will offer a unique peak and off peak pricing system. Flights designated as peak operate predominantly at the highest demand times of the week, with off peak flights occurring mainly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Even the peak flight fares on WestJet are 50% below those normally charged in these markets.

WestJet will commence operations with a two airplane schedule on February 29, 1996, with their third airplane being phased in on March 7. On February 29, this airline will be operating 96 flights per week between Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Kelowna and Winnipeg. On March 7, this will increase to 152 flights per week with the addition of Victoria and increased service between Calgary and Edmonton.

The company has the ability to offer these low fares due to the adoption of some basic cost control principles. First, WestJet is financed by equity, which allows them to own rather than lease their three Boeing 737 aircraft. Second, WestJet is 100 percent ticketless with its own state of the art computerized reservation system. Third, they operate only one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737 jet. This substantially reduces their costs of holding multiple parts inventories, crewing and the need for training their employees on numerous aircraft types. Finally, WestJet’s staff of 200 motivated, productive and service oriented people will be rewarded through the companys profit sharing and stock plan, in addition to their salaries.

The principal services that a low cost carrier does not traditionally provide is the connection of baggage between one airline and another and the provision of meals. By not providing these elements to their short distance travelers, WestJet has the ability to pass savings onto their customers through low fares. What WestJet will always provide however, is safe, reliable air transportation at a low fare without ever compromising the safety or maintenance of their aircraft.

“WestJet intends to put the fun back into travel,” Clive Beddoe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said today, “with more casual flight attendants, more casual uniforms, exceptional service and a great smile on the face of every member of the WestJet team”. WestJet will deliver to western Canadians the opportunity to have a more affordable way to fly and this will be the start of a radical change in the way Canadians think about and use air transportation.