MIAMI — WestJet is a good investment because of its profitability, its low-cost carrier status and its people, said Bob Cummings, the carrier’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest experience before the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials conference March 3.
The carrier is poised to celebrate 20 years of service in 2016. “We’ve had 18 out of 19 profitable years, and the last quarter was our 39th consecutive profitable quarter, and 2014 was a record year,” said Cummings. “That consistency of earnings speaks to our ownership culture and how we’ve been able to stimulate traffic in Canada.”
WestJet is renowned for its work culture, said Cummings. “We talk about how important that is as part of our strategy,” he said. “We feel that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our guests, and our guests will take care of our business. We have been recognized year after year as Canada’s preferred airline and as one of the best employers” in the country.
The airline currently serves 90 destinations with a fleet of 107 737s and 15 Bombardier Q400s, said Cummings. “We added our first trans-Atlantic destinations, to Dublin and Glasgow,” he said.
WestJet is laying the groundwork for long-term growth, with an order of 65 Boeing 737MAXs for delivery beginning in 2017, said Cummings. “We’ve taken delivery of 16 aircraft, and it’s set the stage for our four 767-300ERs that we announced last year,” he said. “We sold 10 older 737-700s and took delivery of 737-800s.”
In August 2014, WestJet launched fare product bundles on three tier levels, said Cummings. “We’re excited about the potential, which will allow us to penetrate business and corporate markets and grow our ancillary revenue,” he said.
The WestJet evolution is 19 years old, said Cummings. “But we still see ourselves as a low-cost carrier with good service and friendly staff,” he said. “But we are growing and are investing in our products to bring in business travelers.”
The company’s business model has put it in good financial position, said Cummings. “On February 28, 2014, WestJet got an investment grade rating from Standard and Poor’s, one of the few airlines in world to get this rating,” he said. “It enables us to get new sources of funding and gives us financial flexibility going forward.”