WestJet has completed its takeover of Sunwing Airlines, bringing to a close a merger deal that was first proposed over a year ago. The Calgary-based airline has said that initially, it plans to operate both airlines independently, with Sunwing's fleet of 18 jets and 2,000 workers continuing to offer flights to the Caribbean and some transatlantic routes. However, it is expected that over time, the two airlines will operate under the WestJet banner. The deal will expand WestJet's footprint in Eastern Canada, and the combined airline will "strategically enhance our sun and leisure offerings to bring even more affordable and accessible travel opportunities to Canadians," according to WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.
In addition to flights, Sunwing also operates a packaged vacation tour business, which will be fully taken over by WestJet Vacations but be based out of Toronto and Montreal. The government insisted that the combined airline would maintain its capacity on routes most affected by the merger, such as locations currently serviced by both airlines. The deal faced opposition by various regulatory bodies and even Sunwing's own union, but ultimately prevailed.
The takeover comes as Canada's major airlines, including WestJet, have been hit with fines for hundreds of violations following recent travel chaos. Meanwhile, WestJet pilots are set to launch a strike authorization vote as negotiations fizzle. The government demanded that WestJet maintain staffing presences in Toronto and Montreal as a condition of allowing the deal to go ahead.
Overall, the takeover of Sunwing Airlines by WestJet represents a significant expansion of WestJet's reach in Eastern Canada, and the combined airline is expected to enhance sun and leisure offerings for Canadians. While the deal faced opposition from regulatory bodies and Sunwing's own union, it ultimately prevailed and will now move forward.