WestJet is considering launching a new short-haul regional airline in a move that would extend service to smaller communities and increase traffic to its current network.
Few details were available on the proposed regional operation, other than that the company is thinking about launching it as early as 2013 using a fleet of approximately 40 smaller, turboprop aircraft.
"This is an exciting consideration for WestJetters," said company president and CEO Gregg Saretsky.
"One of the cornerstones of our success is engaging with employees early on in key decisions and I am confident they will see the strategic value of this initiative."
Saretsky said the company has regularly evaluated the idea in the past, saying a short-haul aircraft combined with WestJet's brand, balance sheet strength and low-cost structure would allow WestJet to profitably accomplish a number of goals.
Among other things, it would allow WestJet to introduce its service to many smaller communities and optimize the size of aircraft to efficiently increase frequency. It would also create new connections between existing WestJet markets and build additional feed to the airline's current network.
"I am excited at the prospect of repeating the entrepreneurial success of WestJet's beginnings," added Clive Beddoe, WestJet chairman and a principal founder of the company.
WestJet's current single fleet of Boeings would be joined by "a sister company operating a single fleet of turboprops to maintain maximum efficiencies for both airlines," Beddoe said.
WestJet currently offers scheduled service to 71 cities in North America and the Caribbean.