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Logo: WestJet   WestJet
Description:   Low-fare airline across Canada
More detailes:   WestJet is low-fare airline across Canada, founded in 1996
Web site (URL):
Phone:   1-888-937-8538
Fax:   1-866-227-3329
City:   Toronto
Image: WestJet - Airlines
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WestJet was founded in 1996 by Clive Beddoe, Mark Hill, Tim Morgan and Donald Bell, four Calgary entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to provide low-fare air travel across western Canada. Through researching other successful airlines in North America - and in particular low-cost carriers from throughout the continent - the team followed the primary examples of Southwest Airlines and Morris Air and determined that a similar concept could be successful in Western Canada.

Over the subsequent months, the team worked to develop a comprehensive business plan and financial model. With this information in hand, a number of local business people were approached and within 30 days the needed capital was raised. After purchasing the three original Boeing 737-200 aircraft, a second offering to retail and institutional investors was completed in January 1996, raising the necessary capital to commence operations.

On February 29, 1996, the airline started flight operations with 220 employees and three aircraft to the cities of Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Since that time, the company has continued to expand, bringing more western cities into WestJet's world. In 1996, WestJet added Victoria, Regina and Saskatoon to its route network. In 1997, WestJet began service to Abbotsford/Fraser Valley, and in 1999 WestJet added Thunder Bay, Prince George and Grande Prairie to its service area.

WestJet achieved a major milestone when in July 1999 it completed its Initial Public Offering of 2.5 million common shares. It was an exciting day for all WestJetters, representing the achievement of a key business goal and raising the necessary capital for expansion of the company into the coming years. With the help of lead underwriters CIBC World Markets and the dedicated executive team, WestJet has made a successful transition to a public company. The capital raised from the offering has been used for the purchase of additional aircraft, as well as the building of new Head Office and Hangar facilities in Calgary, in order to meet the needs of the company's expanding workforce.

1999 saw unprecedented change and restructuring in the airline industry in Canada, offering a window of opportunity for WestJet to expand its service beyond its current route structure. In December 1999, WestJet announced that it would be extending its successful low-fare airline across Canada. Between March and June 2000, the company added service to the Eastern Canadian cities of Hamilton, Moncton and Ottawa, creating an eastern network with Hamilton as the hub.

In 2000, WestJet's founders were honoured as 'The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year' for Canada, in recognition of the contributions they have made to Canadian travellers and the lives of all of WestJet's people and shareholders. In 2001, WestJet added new service to Fort McMurray, Comox and limited addition flights to Brandon. In 2001, WestJet also added its first four Next-Generation Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Also, in 2001, the team of founders received an International Entrepreneurship award for Outstanding Teamwork.

In 2002, WestJet added service to two new Ontario destinations, London and Toronto. In February of 2002, the corporation successfully offered three million common shares yielding net proceeds of $78.9 million. The proceeds will fund aircraft additions, spare parts and a third flight simulator. In 2002, WestJet was named one of Canada's top 100 employers.

In 2003, WestJet added service to the new markets of Halifax, Windsor, Montreal, St. John's and Gander.

The airline operates a fleet of Boeing aircraft featuring new Next-Generation 737 aircraft with leather seats and more legroom. Transborder service commenced in the fall of 2004 to the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando and New York. Service to Palm Springs, Maui, Honolulu and Fort Myers (seasonal) began in 2005.

After ten years in business, WestJet employs over 5,500 people and has carried over 9.4 million guests to its 23 Canadian destinations of Victoria, Comox, Vancouver, Abbotsford/Fraser Valley, Prince George, Kelowna, Grande Prairie, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Moncton, Charlottetown, Halifax and St. John's, and its10 American destinations of Honolulu, Maui, Los Angeles, Palm Springs (seasonal), Las Vegas, Phoenix (seasonal), Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers (seasonal) and Fort Lauderdale; with service to West Palm Beach (seasonal) and Nassau, Bahamas commencing in October and November 2006, respectively. WestJet is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols WJA and WJA.A.

Image: WestJet

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