Sean Durfy, addressing shareholders at WestJet's annual meeting in Calgary in May 2009, announced he's resigning as the airline's president and CEO. ((CBC))

WestJet president and CEO Sean Durfy has announced he's resigning as head of the airline, citing personal reasons.

"This was a very difficult decision for me; however, after careful consideration, I have decided that this is best for me and my family," Durfy said in a press release on Monday.

"Those things I set out to accomplish at WestJet have now been achieved, and I believe this is an appropriate time to allow others to carry the torch while I spend more time with my young family."

Durfy's resignation, which includes him stepping down from the board of directors, is effective April 1.

Gregg Saretsky, who was executive vice-president of operations, has been appointed Durfy's successor as chief executive officer of at the Calgary-based airline. He has 25 years of experience in the airline industry, including management positions with Canadian Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Durfy joined WestJet in 2004 as an executive vice-president, became president two years later and then added CEO to his responsibilities in 2007. He will remain with the company until September to help with the transition.

He was praised for several strategic projects that he launched during his tenure, including WestJet Vacations, two new reservation systems and new reward programs.

Shares in WestJet, which made the announcement after markets closed on Monday, lost 13 cents to $13.87.

With files from The Canadian Press