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West Jet

Clive Beddoe was a founder of the Hanover Group of Companies in Calgary, Alberta, and worked with his associates on a number of enterprises.

To run their various businesses, Clive and his associates had to fly extensively at full fare prices with regular airlines, which was proving to be very expensive. Beddoe had his private pilot’s licence, and it occurred to him that he could purchase an aircraft and fly it for less than the regular airlines. To do this, he bought an eight-seat Cessna.

Soon associates at the Hanover Group were developing a business plan for a low cost airline based on examples like Morris Air from Salt Lake City.

Clive Beddoe had an effective plan to establish WestJet, which would provide low cost passenger air service. The plan called for operating without tickets, which would be replaced with confirmation numbers, no baggage transfer or meal services, a single type of aircraft with one set of maintenance schedules, spare parts, and training sessions for aircrew.

The business plan included lower pay for the employees of the airline, but a favourable profit sharing program.

The plan proved effectual as WestJet experienced rapid success early in 1996, when the airline offered its first services between Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. The aircraft operated at capacity or near capacity on all flights.

WestJet expanded in the first year of operation with additional flights to Victoria, Regina, and Saskatoon. In 1997, services were added to Abbotsford/Fraser Valley. In 1999, WestJet added flights to Thunder Bay, Prince George, and Grande Prairie.

In 1999, government regulations changed, resulting in more freedom for airlines. WestJet was able to add Hamilton, Ottawa, and Moncton as destinations in 2000. In 2001, Fort McMurray, Comox, and irregular flights to Brandon were added to the schedule as well.

WestJet’s success continued in 2002 with the addition of Toronto and London, Ontario, plus Halifax, Windsor, Montreal, St. John’s and Gander in 2003. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, and Orlando became WestJet destinations in 2004. Flights between New York and Palm Springs were anticipated for 2005.

Because of the success of WestJet, Clive Beddoe received numerous awards that included the Worldwide Award for Teamwork (shared with the co-founders of WestJet), from the World Entrepreneur of the Year celebrations in 2000. He also received the Pinnacle Award and the Business Ethics Award from the Better Business Bureau in southern Alberta in 2001.

In 2004, Beddoe received the Canadian Business Leader Award given by the University of Alberta Faculty of Business with the Business Advisory Council.

Beddoe was the first to successfully establish and continue to operate a discount airline in Canada. His airline has continued to grow and show profitability, while seven others have failed, namely: Canadian Airlines, Roots Air, Royal Aviation, Canada 3000, VistaJet, Greyhound Air, and CanJet.

 

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