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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.