WestJet and WestJet Vacations welcomed travel industry members on Tuesday (Sept. 28) at its virtual showcase, where company officials shared the latest updates to the airline's network, products and vacation destinations.
Participants were able to choose from several breakout sessions during the two-hour event while WestJet representatives were ready to answer questions and share information in real time.
Travel advisors were also invited to meet with preferred hotel partner representatives to discuss winter travel plans for 2021-2022, and suppliers shared tips on selling packages with safety in mind.
Additionally, agents were educated on how to take clients' travels to the next level with upgraded business cabins, as well as in-destination suites that include luxurious amenities.
“As a company built on care and connection, our travel trade partners are important to us," said Charles Crowder, vice-president sales and distribution at WestJet. "We recognize that the past 18 months have been hard for you, and we value our partnership and consider you to be an extension of our sales force."
Crowder also pointed out that the company’s recent operational disruptions are not representative of “the WestJet you know and love.”
“You deserve better and be assured that these challenges are temporary," he said.
Expansion plan paused
Prior to the pandemic, WestJet was executing a purposeful expansion plan.
This included the:
- Introduction of the 787-9 Dreamliner with flights to London, Paris, Dublin, and Maui
- New service to Barcelona, Portland, Atlanta, Austin, and Roatan
- First full year of link service
- Launch of Swoop
- Upgrading all narrow-bodied aircraft with premium seating
Due to the pandemic, some strategies were halted, as demand dropped by 90 per cent, the company said. However, this past spring, WestJet saw its monthly guest counts drop to single-digit percentages versus 2019.
Transborder and international service reached as low as two per cent versus double digits in 2019, the airline said.
The light switch turned back on in early July, however, when significant levels of domestic travel were evident and travel restrictions were further relaxed.
Returning to destinations
The plan, now, is to return to 2019 service with continued international expansion including:
- 10-787’s available for deployment in summer 2022
- Calgary to Seattle launches next month
- Amsterdam route to be launched soon
- Previously announced Calgary to Rome will start, with additional new European routes on the 787
- New European routes on the MAX from Toronto – Edinburgh, and Glasgow
- Continued partnership growth with Delta
The airline said it will pay particular attention to transborder and sun destinations where demand is beginning to pick up through the first quarter of 2022, and where advanced bookings are at or above pre-pandemic levels.
Crowder shared that WestJet wants to reassure the trade that safety above all is not just a saying - "it is a promise to you and your clients."
From pre-departure to post-arrival and at every point in between, WestJet shared what it is doing to demonstrate that the organization has your client’s well-being at heart and will always put their Safety Above All. (Click here for details).
To support this, WestJet has released a series of Travel Ready videos consisting of four videos that provide you with information about WestJet's current safety protocols.
Back on track
Growth plans for WestJet are back on track, Crowder said, and efforts will be made to expand hubs, increase connectivity, and strengthen partnerships.
Crowder reiterated to the trade: “On behalf of all of us at WestJet, we are thankful for your support and for allowing us to celebrate 25 years of connecting you and your clients to the places that you all love to go," he said.