Ed Sims is president and CEO of WestJet.
Calgary’s Business: What’s your vision for WestJet in the near-term and long-term?
Sims: My mandate from the outset has been to return WestJet to previous levels of profitability and build trust and confidence among our 13,000 WestJet employees. Our people are our ‘secret sauce’ and we are all laser focused on profitability, structure and cost discipline to deliver on our strategy to become a global, world-class airline.
We are excited to bring Canadians to the world and the world to Canada. And we’ll do it while continuing to maintain our caring WestJet values.
CB: What market is the one you would love to see the company have a presence in that it doesn’t have right now?
Sims: There are many destinations that I and WestJetters would love to have on our roster. Our Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners start arriving next year and so our first Dreamliner destinations will be announced in early October.
We are certain that Canadians travelling for business or pleasure are going to be thrilled with their guest experience and where we will be taking them on this game-changing aircraft. No matter where these new destinations are, we are proud ambassadors – for Calgary, for Alberta and for Canada.
We love our home here and we are excited about our role in sharing its spirit.
CB: How do you juggle the company’s image from its humble and folksy roots to its presence as a major player in the airline industry?
Sims: I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. WestJet is proudly Calgarian, and our deep roots in the city and the province keep us grounded, especially when we have so many passionate Calgarians who are always keen to offers us an opinion.
WestJet’s future as a low-fare domestic airline with a premium international arm is a well-established model – British Airways and Qantas being examples. WestJet will simply do it with our award-winning personal care that has seen us voted Best Airline in Canada by TripAdvisor two years running and North America’s Best Low-Cost Airline by Skytrax.
CB: Why has the company gone through recent labour tensions with employees and pilots and where does that all stand now?
Sims: We respect the individual rights of all our WestJetters, and are committed to listening and supporting all our team members who come together every day to proudly serve our guests.
While we believe working directly with our employees is the most effective way to understand and respond to their needs, we will also work closely with the various labour groups to do so.
Ultimately though, we are one team at WestJet and I know the caring, passionate nature of our employees will ensure we collectively deliver on our strategy to become a global airline.
CB: What new things can passengers expect from WestJet in the near future?
Sims: We have set our sights on taking WestJet to new heights as a high-value global network carrier, bringing more Canadians to the world and the world to Canada for business and pleasure. This is coming soon with the expansion of an extensive route network through the finalization of our joint venture with Delta, and the launch of our Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will include our first-ever business class cabin.
We are standing on the threshold of a very new world for WestJet and we could not be more excited.
– Mario Toneguzzi