In 2012, WestJet had passenger revenues of $3.4 billion (CAD) and its earnings per share increased 68% to C$1.78. In 2015, WestJet was rated as the 8th best low-cost carrier in the world and the second best in North America by Skytrax.
In mid-September 1996, WestJet's fleet was grounded due to a disagreement with Transport Canada over maintenance schedule requirements. The airline suspended all service for 2 weeks before resuming flights.
In 2000, WestJet CEO Steve Smith was released from WestJet after 18 months in the position, apparently due to differences about management style; Smith went on to head rival Air Canada's low-cost subsidiary Zip. After Smith's departure, Clive Beddoe again became CEO of the company, a position he held until July 2007.
WestJet entered into a two-year agreement with Air Transat in August 2003 whereby WestJet aircraft would be filled by Transat's two main tour operators, World of Vacations and Air Transat Holidays. These chartered flights operated largely to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean and the planes were operated by WestJet crews. This agreement between WestJet and Air Transat was amicably terminated in February, 2009.
In 2004, rival airline Air Canada accused WestJet of industrial espionage and filed a civil suit against WestJet in Ontario Superior Court. Air Canada accused WestJet of accessing Air Canada confidential information via a private website in order to gain a business advantage. On May 29, 2006 WestJet admitted to the charges leveled by Air Canada and agreed to pay C$5.5 million in legal and investigation fees to Air Canada and donate C$10 million to various children's charities in the names of Air Canada and WestJet.
In January 2004, WestJet announced that it was moving the focus of its Eastern operations from Hamilton to Toronto the following April, fully moving into the lucrative Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal triangle and tripling the total number of its flights out of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
In early 2005, Palm Springs and San Diego were added to the company's list of destinations, while New York-LaGuardia was dropped. In April 2005, they announced new seasonal service to Charlottetown and ceased service to Gander. In fall 2005, Ft. Myers and Las Vegas were added to the growing list of destinations.
WestJet's first scheduled service outside Canada and the United States began in 2006, to Nassau, Bahamas. This was considered a huge milestone within the company's long-term destination strategy and was a vital goal for future international market presence.
In September 2006, Sean Durfy took over as President of WestJet from founder Clive Beddoe.
On October 26, 2006, WestJet announced that it had its best quarterly profit to date, of C$52.8 million.
The same year, WestJet commissioned the construction of a new six-storey head office building, next to their existing hangar facility at the Calgary International Airport. The building was constructed following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, featuring a rainwater retention system and geothermal heating. The first employees moved in during the first quarter of 2009, and the building officially opened the following May. The WestJet Campus building was certified as LEED Gold standard in October 2011.
During the 2000s (decade), WestJet made significant gains in domestic market share against Air Canada. In 2000 it held only 7% to Air Canada's 77%, though by the end of 2009 WestJet had risen to 38%, against Air Canada's 55%.
In late April 2009, WestJet temporarily suspended service to several of its destinations in Mexico due to the outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) in the country. The suspension of service to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta lasted from early May until mid-June, with seasonal service to Cancún being restored the following fall.
In March 2010, Sean Durfy resigned from his position as WestJet's CEO, citing personal reasons. He was replaced by Gregg Saretsky, a former executive at Canadian Airlines and Alaska Airlines and previously Vice-President of WestJet Vacations and Executive Vice-President of Operations.
In July 2010 WestJet announced service to Santa Clara, Cuba, New Orleans and Grand Cayman bringing the total number of destinations to 71. Service to New Orleans lasted only one season and did not return the next year.
In late 2010 WestJet announced it was wet leasing a Boeing 757 aircraft to expand service between Calgary to Honolulu and Maui and Edmonton to Maui, on a seasonal basis.
On July 7, 2014, WestJet announced that they were in the "advanced stages of sourcing" four wide-body aircraft that would begin flying by the fall of 2015. These would initially serve on the seasonal Alberta-Hawaii routes when WestJet's service agreement with Thomas Cook Airlines—who currently fly these routes on behalf of WestJet—expires in the spring of 2015. WestJet would take delivery of 4 Boeing 767-300ER's in summer 2015 WestJet took delivery of the first of these aircraft on 27 August 2015.
On June 16, 2015, WestJet announced that it will launch service to London's Gatwick Airport starting in the spring of 2016. It will be the carrier's third transatlantic destination after Dublin and Glasgow. The majority of flights to London will use the wide-body Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. On September 15, 2015, WestJet flights to London direct from Edmonton, St. John's, Vancouver, Winnipeg (seasonal) Calgary and Toronto (year-round) went on sale to the public.
WestJet and WestJet Encore currently fly to 90 destinations in 20 countries throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe including 36 cities in Canada and 21 in the United States. WestJet's largest hub in terms of daily departures is Toronto Pearson International Airport, the airline's main connection point in Eastern Canada and Calgary International Airport, the airlines main connection point in western Canada.
WestJet provides the most Canadian flights to Las Vegas and Orlando, offering non-stop routes (some of them seasonal) from eleven Canadian cities to Orlando and twelve to Las Vegas. Since 2008, WestJet is the largest international carrier, by volume of passengers, flying into Las Vegas.
WestJet also serves 20 destinations in the Caribbean and seven in Mexico, some on a seasonal basis.
In 1999, WestJet was in talks regarding a possible 'feeder' arrangement for Air Canada's network. These talks were apparently discontinued when Air Canada went forward with acquisition of Canadian Airlines the following year.
In 2005, WestJet began a limited interline agreement with Taiwan-based China Airlines, in part to test the company's capability to partner with other carriers.
In August 2006, in a Globe and Mail interview, then-WestJet CEO Sean Durfy stated that WestJet was in talks with Oneworld. Durfy said that, if a deal with Oneworld were reached, it would allow WestJet to maintain its scheduling flexibility; Durfy was later quoted in 2007 saying that a deal for WestJet to join the Oneworld alliance was unlikely. Despite this, WestJet did formalize a deal with Oneworld in November 2008, to partner on sales of travel to corporate and business travelers.
In July 2008 WestJet announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to build a distribution and codeshare agreement with U.S. based Southwest Airlines. However, in April 2010 WestJet announced that the airline partnership with Southwest Airlines was terminated and in October 2010, WestJet partnered with American Airlines instead.
In 2006 WestJet announced it has been in talks with 70 airlines around the world interested in an interline or codeshare agreement.
The mainline fleet currently consists exclusively of Boeing aircraft, while wholly owned subsidiary Encore flies BombardierDash 8 Q400s. 20 examples were originally ordered with options for up to 25 more. The first two examples were delivered in mid-June 2013. Scheduled passenger service on these aircraft began on 24 June 2013. The first Boeing 737-700 delivery took place in 2001, and the first deliveries of Boeing 737-600 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft began in 2005, with the final 737-600 aircraft delivered in September 2006.
WestJet was to be the Boeing launch customer for the winglets on the 737-600, but announced in their second-quarter 2006 results that they were not going to move ahead with those plans. WestJet CEO Clive Beddoe cited the cost and time associated with their installation was not warranted as they are primarily used for short-haul routes. As a result of the abandonment of the program to install winglets on these aircraft, WestJet incurred a one-time charge of approximately $609,000.
In the winter season, WestJet has temporarily wet leasedBoeing 757 aircraft to expand service between Alberta and Hawaii. From February through April 2011, a single aircraft was leased from North American Airlines for this purpose; in the winter of 2011-12, a single aircraft was leased from Thomas Cook Airlines. For the winter seasons from 2012–15, this has been expanded to two Thomas Cook aircraft. In April 2013, it was announced that WestJet would sell 10 of their oldest 737-700s to Southwest Airlines, and purchase 10 737-800s to modernize and increase capacity of their fleet.
In May 2014, CEO Gregg Saretsky announced that WestJet was considering acquiring wide-body aircraft to operate long-haul international routes. By July of the same year, Saretsky confirmed that wide-body service would begin in 2015. In late June 2014, WestJet announced that the widebody aircraft were to be Boeing 767-300ER. They are to acquire four airframes that have been retired from Qantas. The preparation and sale of these aircraft will be finalized by Boeing.
It was announced early in 2005 that the Boeing 737-200 fleet would be retired and replaced by newer, more fuel-efficient 737 Next Generation series aircraft. On July 12, 2005, WestJet announced that it had completed the sale of its remaining Boeing 737-200 to Miami-based Apollo Aviation Group.
On January 9, 2006, the last Boeing 737-200 was flown during a fly-by ceremony at the WestJet hangar in Calgary, piloted by WestJet founder Don Bell and was a charter flight from Las Vegas to Calgary.
In 2011 Bell TV suddenly cut their satellite coverage outside Canada, so all new aircraft did not have the LiveTV product installed while the new IFE system was being planned. Instead, Westjet temporarily installed Samsung Tablets with prerecorded TV Shows and Movies during the transition. The LiveTV system will continue to be active until the fleet has been outfitted with the new Panasonic airline entertainment system.
WestJet includes a buy on board meal service with sandwiches, alcoholic beverages and snacks for purchase. In some markets, the sandwiches offered onboard are made by local delis in the departure city (such as the Bread Garden in Vancouver, Spolumbo's in Calgary and DiRienzo's in Ottawa).
In December 2013, it was announced that WestJet was in the final negotiation stages of a new in flight entertainment system which will feature WiFi on board its aircraft. By February, 2014, the final plans were released, featuring Panasonic's airline entertainment system. The new IFE includes live streaming TV channels, packaged TV series, movies, magazines, games, USB, 110 volt power outlets and WiFi. The system can be accessed through personal web-enabled devices, or tablets available on board. System installation is set to begin by the end of 2014.
C-GWSZ (ship #812), a WestJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft wearing a "Care-antee" special livery, photographed in 2011.
The same plane as on the left, now wearing a Fantasia-themed livery promoting Walt Disney World as WestJet's first "Magic Plane", photographed in 2014.
In October 2015, a second WestJet Boeing 737-800, C-GWSV (ship #810) was painted in a special livery promoting Walt Disney World. This "Frozen Plane" features a theme from the movie Frozen.
WestJet's aircraft are painted white except for the lettering on the fuselage, wings and vertical stabilizer, except for special examples as noted below.
The tail is divided roughly into slanted thirds, coloured (from front to back) navy blue, white and teal. This pattern is used on the outside of the blended winglets at the end of the wings while, on the inside, the winglets are painted white with the words WestJet.com in dark blue lettering.
In February 2010 WestJet introduced a special livery on one aircraft, registration C-GWSZ (fleet #812), promoting its customer-service promise, or "Care-antee", in both English and French. This aircraft also featured a new tail design. In 2013 this aircraft underwent another livery change in partnership with Disney, featuring Mickey Mouse from the movie Fantasia. This aircraft is now referred to as the "Magic Plane" in the WestJet fleet. A second aircraft, the "Frozen Plane" (registration C-GWSV, fleet #810) joined the Disney partnership in 2015, this one painted in a Frozen theme with Elsa and Anna on the vertical stabilizer and a similar theme in the cabin. Also in 2015, two aircraft, which are both Boeing 737's, have been painted with teal tartans over the WestJet logo on the tail to celebrate the introduction of service to Glasgow, Scotland.