Westjet acquires Sunwing

WestJet Group acquires Sunwing and what this means for Canadian travellers

WestJet announced on May 1 that it has completed its acquisition of Sunwing Airlines, taking over the smaller rival airline just over a year after the deal was first proposed in March 2022.

The merger of the two companies marks a significant change for the Canadian aviation and travel sector, and "will give travellers greater choice, competitive airfares, and increased access to sun destinations," reads the press release. It also allows Sunwing to continue its expansion across Canada and protect jobs.

"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," said Alexis von Hoensbroech, CEO of the WestJet Group.

"Together, we will strategically enhance our sun and leisure offerings to bring even more affordable and accessible travel opportunities to Canadians."

While the companies have touted the merger as bringing greater value for travellers and delivering new travel options, skeptics were worried that costs will actually increase, due to reduced competition.

Federal authorities outlined a series of conditions in signing off on the deal, including extending Sunwing vacation package offerings to five new Canadian cities, improve Sunwing’s baggage handling, and increase net employment by 20 per cent over three years in the Toronto office.

For now, the airlines will continue to operate independently. Sunwing's fleet of 18 jets will maintain their flight offers to the Caribbean and select transatlantic routes.

Over time, the two airlines are expected to operate under the sole WestJet banner, and transition from competitors to collaborators with the goal of prioritizing the experience of a growing number of guests.

Since the deal was proposed last year, several new low-cost airlines have emerged in Canada - positive news for Canadians creating more competition. Lynx Air launched their first flights out of Pearson in April 2022, Canada Jetlines last August, and PLAY Airlines take off this spring.

Lead photo by

John McArthur

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