Monday, 13 May 2019

WestJet to be purchased by private equity firm Onex

Photo WestJet
It might come as a surprise for some, but the rapidly growing Canadian airline, WestJet, is about to be purchased by a Canadian private equity firm for the cool price of $5 billion including assumed debt.

Onex Corporation and its affiliated funds will acquire all outstanding shares of WestJet, after which the airline will operate a privately-held company.  "Since our first flight in 1996, WestJet has been singularly focused on providing better options for the Canadian travelling public and this transaction retains that commitment," said Clive Beddoe, WestJet's Founder and Chairman. "I am particularly pleased that WestJet will remain headquartered in Calgary and will continue to build on the success that our 14,000 WestJetters have created. Onex' aerospace experience, history of positive employee relations and long-term orientation makes it an ideal partner for WestJetters, and I am excited about our future."

"WestJet is one of Canada's strongest brands and we have tremendous respect for the business that Clive Beddoe and all WestJetters have built over the years. WestJet is renowned internationally for its unparalleled guest experience and employee culture. We're thrilled to be partnering with WestJetters and continuing this remarkable Canadian success story," said Tawfiq Popatia, a Managing Director at Onex. 

Ed Sims, WestJet's President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are delighted to continue the journey of building an airline based on a growing network, providing competitive airfares and more choice to, from and within Canada, for communities large and small. Integral to this relationship is a commitment to our employees, and our unique ownership-driven culture."

What will new owners mean for passengers?

No details have been released about any changes, so really who knows what the long-term future will hold for the airline, but, in the short-term, it is business as usual. Some industry commentators believe this is a good step for the carrier as with the extra finances Onex can provide WestJet with added stimulus for transatlantic developments.

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