WestJet CEO 'surprised' by airline 'junk fees' mention in fiscal update - BNN Bloomberg

Ottawa’s fall fiscal update announced several measures intended to crack down on “junk fees,” but the CEO of Canada’s second-biggest airline says his company was already following one of the outlined proposals.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland singled out Canadian airlines, wireless providers and banks as businesses where Canadians can expect to see a reduction in extra fees in the months to come.

On the airline front, the government said it will work with the Canadian Transportation Agency to amend Air Passenger Protection regulations to make sure airlines seat children under the age of 14 with an accompanying adult at no extra cost.

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview that the Calgary-based airline has “always done this,” adding that he was “surprised” by its inclusion in the Fiscal Update.

“This doesn’t create any concern, except for why they introduced it if all airlines do it anyway,” von Hoensbroech said on Thursday.

FARE PRICES FALLING

According to Statistics Canada, the cost of air travel fell close to 20 per cent in October compared to a year earlier.

Von Hoensbroech said he expects more possible bargains on airline tickets in the months to come.

“Capacity is up in the market and we also see some passengers prefer to trade down a bit,” said von Hoensbroech. “Canadians can expect it is easier to make a bargain this winter than it was last winter.”

2024 OUTLOOK

Looking to 2024, WestJet expects to see some softness in the market.

According to Bloomberg analysis, key issues for American airlines include airfares, increasing capacity to lower cost per seat and volatility in fuel costs.

Von Hoensbroech said Canada has trailed the U.S. by about year in terms of COVID-19 recovery, he expects some of the issues now present in the U.S. to make their way to Canada in 2024.

Overall, he said WestJet is optimistic about its growth potential next year.

WestJet has navigated labour challenges this year, including tense contract negotiations with pilots that saw the airline start grounding its fleet before averting a strike with an eleventh-hour deal.

Six months later, von Hoensbroech said the airline is feeling better about staffing.

“We didn’t have enough pilots throughout a lot of the last year. We couldn’t fly our airplanes as much as we wanted to,” he said. “As we now get to the staffing levels we need, we can fly more and that distributes the cost across more seats.”

The airline has a better cost per seat than it did one year ago, according to von Hoensbroech.

“We feel that we are back – we have the pandemic behind us – we are back in black and we are well prepared for whatever is going to come,” he said.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/670725065/-QAxqs-qmFCPp_1L?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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