WestJet to proceed with short-haul division

Westjet LogoWestJet Airlines will launch a new regional operation to serve smaller Canadian destinations after 91 percent of its staff agreed to the plan. WestJet is expected to launch the new service before the end of 2013. It is talking with Bombardier and ATR about buying a single common fleet of turboprop aircraft to operate its regional structure.

Canada’s second largest  airline also reported lower quarterly earnings this week that were still higher than market analyst expectations.

WestJet announced publicly that it is requesting proposals from Bombardier for its DHC-8 Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft, and from ATR for its ATR 72-600 aircraft. The airline expects to submit an order by mid-2012.

Operating a common fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft has been central to WestJet’s strategy as a low-cost airline, as maintenance and training costs are reduced as a result. The airline will continue that plan with a single fleet of turboprops for its new feeder airline.

WestJet, which flies within Canada and to holiday travel destinations in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, has long held a plan for adding a second fleet for some time as a new revenue source for the airline.

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