WestJet completes takeover of Canadian rival Sunwing

Canadian carrier WestJet has completed its takeover of rival Sunwing Airlines.

In an announcement on May 1, WestJet Group said the airlines would initially continue independent operations as part of their shift “from competitors to collaborators”.

The deal, which was publicly proposed in March 2022, also sees Calgary-based WestJet acquire operator Sunwing Vacations.

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WestJet Group chief executive Alexis von Hoensbroech said: “It brings me great pleasure to welcome Sunwing to the group, adding 18 Boeing 737s, 2,000 employees and Canada’s largest vacation tour operator and significantly expanding our footprint in eastern Canada.”

WestJet said the deal will “bring greater choice, competitive airfares and increased direct access to sun destinations to Canadian travellers”. Jobs will be protected too, the company added.

The Canadian government gave the green light to the deal in March following a competition probe.

Transport Canada said approval was granted with “strict terms and conditions” including expansion to offer holiday packages from five new Canadian cities and maintaining capacity on routes most affected by the merger.

It said: “In the absence of this acquisition, Canada’s air transport sector could have faced greater instability, including job losses, a significant reduction of affordable vacation offerings, negative impacts on passengers, and the government not being repaid sizeable loans.”

WestJet, which employs 14,000 staff, has more than 180 aircraft and flies to more than 110 destinations in 24 countries.

Meanwhile, Sunwing is the “largest integrated travel company in North America”.

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