With high fares from large airlines in the 1990s, and the desire
of consumers for a low cost alternative, Calgary businessman
Clive Beddoe looked at discount airlines in the United States,
like Southwestern Airlines and Morris Air, and used them as
models to create WestJet in western Canada in 1996.
WestJet kept costs low by not serving meals on flights, used
one kind of aircraft, thereby reducing maintenance costs, and
kept fares low enough to ensure a high percentage of seats were
filled on all flights. The concept worked as passengers accepted
flights without the "frills" other large airlines provided. The
service was inexpensive, courteous and professional.
Early in 1996, WestJet started services between Vancouver,
Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. The success of the
airline brought about an expansion of services in 1996 to
Victoria, Regina, and Saskatoon. In 1997 service to
Abbotsford/Fraser Valley was added, and in 1999 stops were
scheduled to Thunder Bay, Prince George, and Grande Prairie.
Changes in the air industry in 1999 made it possible for
WestJet to fly across Canada, and it responded by flying to
Hamilton, Ottawa, and Moncton in 2000. In 2001, WestJet added
routes to Fort McMurray, Comox, and irregular flights to
Brandon. In 2002, it added Toronto and London, Ontario, with
Halifax, Windsor, Montreal, St. John’s and Gander added in 2003.
In 2004, WestJet will add Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix,
Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, and Orlando. In 2005, WestJet
expects to include flights between New York and Palm Springs.
WestJet brought a formula for success to the Canadian airline
industry that has changed the way in which commercial air
companies do business. The real impact of WestJet's activities
can be seen in the many imitators which have sprung up in the
Canadian passenger air service industry since WestJet first
appeared on the scene.