Shortly after announcing its intention to integrate the ultra-low-cost carrier Swoop, we’ve learned that WestJet also has plans to fully integrate Sunwing Airlines into its mainline operations. While no official announcements have been made by either side, other outlets have confirmed the details directly with WestJet and Sunwing Airlines.
While the timeline for this integration is not yet known, the end result is that Canada will have one less separate airline at some point in the future.
WestJet to Fully Integrate Sunwing Airlines
Earlier this year, WestJet Group completed its acquisition of Sunwing Airlines. At the time, it appeared that the two airlines planned to operate separately; however, that is set to change in the coming years.
Just last week, WestJet also confirmed that it will integrate its ultra-low-cost subsidiary Swoop into its mainline fleet by the end of October 2023. At present, there’s no confirmed timeline for the Sunwing integration; however, it’s expected to take up to a couple of years.
Once this happens, there will no longer be separate entities for WestJet, Swoop, and Sunwing; rather, all three will operate under the WestJet brand under a single air operator certificate.
PAX has also reported that WestJet will eventually reconfigure the Swoop and Sunwing aircraft to bring them in line with what WestJet currently offers on most of its aircraft.
The reconfigured aircraft will add up to 13 more seats than are currently available in economy. The cabin would also offer 12 Premium seats at the front of the cabin, as well as a handful of seats with extra legroom scattered throughout the economy cabin.
It’s worth noting that neither WestJet nor Sunwing have yet to make official announcements about the integration or reconfiguration; however, now that it has been confirmed, it’s likely that we’ll learn more in the near future.
Integration Must Respect Acquisition Conditions
As part of approving the WestJet Group’s acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations, the Government of Canada placed a number of conditions on the merger, which are as follows:
- Extending Sunwing vacation package offerings to five new Canadian cities
- Maintaining capacity on routes most affected by the merger
- Increasing regional connectivity
- Improving baggage handling for better passenger experience
- Maintaining a vacations business head office in the Toronto area and a regional office in the Montreal area for a minimum of five years
- Increasing net employment by 20 per cent over three years in the Toronto office
- Ensuring better passenger experience by investing in IT technology solutions to improve Sunwing’s communications
- Supplying airfare data on vacation packages for monitoring of post-acquisition price trends
- Gradually ending Sunwing’s seasonal leasing practice to protect Canadian jobs
As we now know, WestJet plans to integrate Sunwing Airlines into its mainline operations; however, it appears that Sunwing Vacations will continue to remain a separate brand.
Indeed, four of the above conditions make direct reference to Sunwing’s vacation tour operator arm, including having to maintain offices in Toronto and Montreal for a minimum of five years.
It’s not clear if the integration will go against any of the other terms, but WestJet will certainly need to be mindful of them as it plans for the integration in the coming years.
Various reports have surfaced that WestJet will integrate Sunwing Airlines into its mainline operations at some point in the next couple of years. This news comes fresh in the wake of WestJet confirming that it will fully integrate Swoop into its mainline operations by the end of October 2023.
Furthermore, there are also reports that WestJet plans to reconfigure the Swoop and Sunwing aircraft to have a streamlined cabin throughout its fleet.
While neither WestJet nor Sunwing Airlines has yet to make an official announcement about the integration, various sources have confirmed details with the airlines, and it’s expected that more information will become available in the near future.