WestJet to Go Private in Deal With Private Equity Firm

May 13, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

WestJet will go private after Canada’s second-biggest airline agreed to a friendly acquisition from Toronto-based private-equity firm Onex Corp.

It’s unclear what changes might lie in store for customers a result of the deal, which still must be approved by regulators and shareholders. WestJet and Onex predicted the deal would close in “the latter part of 2019 or early 2020.”

The move comes after WestJet faced a series of challenges in 2018.

Canadian broadcaster CBC summed up the carrier’s year, writing “soaring fuel costs, labor unrest, and steep competition at home and abroad caused the airline to incur its first loss in 13 years during the second quarter of last year, followed by a steep year-over-year drop in the third quarter — which nonetheless bounced back into the black.”

For now, WestJet founder and chairman Clive Beddoe struck an optimistic tone about the deal, calling Onex an “ideal” partner for the airline.

MORE: Canadian Friendliness at Its Best: A Review of WestJet’s 767 in Economy From London to Toronto

“I am particularly pleased that WestJet will remain headquartered in Calgary and will continue to build on the success that our 14,000 WestJetters have created,” Beddoe said in a statement.

Onex approached it in March about a potential deal, according to the companies.

“WestJet is one of Canada’s strongest brands and we have tremendous respect for the business that Clive Beddoe and all WestJetters have built over the years,” Tawfiq Popatia, a managing director at Onex, said in WestJet’s statement.

The sides valued the deal at approximately CA$5 billion, “including assumed debt.”

MORE ON WESTJET: Reviews, Deals, News & Guides from The Points Guy

There were no immediate details about how – or if – WestJet’s new owner might reshape or remake the airline if the deal is approved.

In the US, one recent example of a carrier going private came with Frontier Airlines, which accelerated its shift to a no-frills, “ultra low-lost” model after it was acquired in 2013 by private-equity firm Indigo Partners.

For now, WestJet seems to be projecting a business-as-normal message.

“We are delighted to continue the journey of building an airline based on a growing network, providing competitive airfares and more choice to, from and within Canada, for communities large and small,” WestJet CEO Ed Sims said in the company’s statement. “Integral to this relationship is a commitment to our employees, and our unique ownership-driven culture.”

Featured image: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.