Canada’s aviation sector continues to face several hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but one airline is not letting that get in the way of celebrating a birthday.
WestJet, on Monday (March 1), officially recognized its 25th year of operations, highlighting its role in strengthening airline competition in Canada while also giving customers an opportunity to give back.
“A quarter century ago, WestJet provided Canadians with a choice in airlines; since that time, we have invested across the country to bring more options and competitive fares to millions of Canadians who couldn't afford the price of air travel prior," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO, in a release. "We are thankful to the thousands of WestJetters who have dedicated themselves to building our airline and to the more than 300 million guests who have chosen to fly with us. A lot has changed, but care remains at the heart of what we do."
WestJet took its first flight two-and-a-half decades ago, in 1996, with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.
Over the years, WestJet also expanded its fleet, going from three aircraft to nearly 180, including the launch of its first series of 787 Dreamliners in 2019.
WestJet's arrival cut airfare almost in half for many communities and is the reason why 50 per cent more Canadians have been able to take a flight, the airline said.
WestJet has donated more than 200,000 flights to charitable organizations across its network and WestJetters have volunteered more than 575,000 hours to local community organizations through the WestJetters Caring for the Community program.
"It has been a difficult year for all airlines, WestJet included," Mr. Sims said. "I am proud of our resilient team who repatriated 4,000 Canadians on 28 flights with Global Affairs Canada; introduced more than 20 additional layers of safety for those still flying; and most recently, have volunteered to assist governments in vaccinating Canadians.”
“We have been there in the past for Canadians and will be here in the future, for when they are ready to fly."
Donating the gift of flight
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, WestJet is re-creating its first flight between Calgary and Vancouver with day-one WestJetters operating the flight, including the captain, first officer, cabin crew members and flight dispatch.
The scheduled flight, WS129, has 140 guests on board and as part of marking the airline's 25-year commitment to communities, each guest will receive a gift of flight voucher to be donated to a charity of their choice.
The gift of flight is valid for one roundtrip flight for two anywhere WestJet flies and is to be used by non-profit and charity organizations to support their fundraising initiatives.
"WestJet is committed to Canadian communities and we are honoured to provide others with the opportunity to share in our caring spirit by giving the gift of flight to the charity of their choice that may need an extra hand right now in fundraising," stated Sims.
For more information on WestJet's 25 anniversary, visit https://www.westjet.com/wj25
Watch WestJet’s 25th anniversary video here!
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