WestJet - Statistics & Facts

WestJet is the second largest Canadian airline with a 34 percent share of the Canadian domestic market in 2018. Headquartered in Calgary, they provide flights throughout Canada and North America, as well as offering limited services to Europe. In total, as of February 2019 they provided flights to 109 different destinations across 24 countries. Starting as a low-cost carrier in 1996, WestJet originally provided flights across western Canada (hence their name). Their routes expanded into eastern Canada from the early 2000’s, and international routes to various North American destinations were added in the mid 2000’s. WestJet are currently in the process of rebranding into a full-service carrier. This transition will include the expansion of their European presence, including the addition of flights to continental Europe for the first time with flights to Paris from May 2019. They will still continue to service the low-cost market, however, through the creation of fully-owned subsidiary Swoop, an ultra low-cost carrier which commenced services in June 2018.

Across all metrics, the company has seen consistent growth in recent years. Total revenue has increased year on year since 2013, and grew by almost 30 percent to reach 4.73 billion Canadian dollars in 2018. Also over this time, WestJet’s number of employees increased by 45 percent to 11,624, their number of passengers carried increased by 25.5 percent to 25.5 million, their revenue passenger miles increased by just over 40 percent to almost 27.6 billion and their available seat miles increased by around 37.5 percent to 33 billion. In each of these cases there has been year-on-year growth for each year over the period. The only metric not to improve year-on-year is their passenger load factor, which saw a slight decline in the years following 2012. However, this started increasing from 2015, and in 2018 stood at 83.8 percent, above the previous high of 82.8 percent in 2012.

WestJet’s primary competitor in the Canadian market is Air Canada, who held a 46 percent share of the domestic market in 2018. In that year, Air Canada carried around 50.9 million passengers compared to around 25.5 million passengers carried by WestJet. Air Canada’s revenue is significantly higher than this difference in passengers would suggest, totaling 18 billion Canadian dollars in 2018. Looking at the regional and global levels, while WestJet was the eight-largest low-cost airline by revenue worldwide in 2018, they were only the tenth largest airline group in North America once full-service and freight airlines are included. These figures demonstrate that the capacity of full service providers to generate revenue is much higher than that of low-cost carriers, and it is in this context that WestJet’s goal to rebrand as a full service provider can be understood.

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