WestJet inks deal for Thomas Cook charter flights

The Globe and Mail

A West Jet Boeing 737-700 aircraft (L) departs Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia February 9, 2011. (© Andy Clark / Reuters/REUTERS)

WestJet Airlines Ltd. has signed a deal to fly charter flights for Thomas Cook Canada Inc., just days after the leisure travel firm discontinued its contract with Jazz Aviation LP.

Calgary-based WestJet said Wednesday that the new pact will allow the carrier to provide extra seat capacity for passengers who book on Thomas Cook’s Sunquest Vacations unit next winter.

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“As an expansion to its successful two-year, Canada-wide partnership with Thomas Cook, WestJet will be the only airline providing capacity for Thomas Cook’s tour operator arm in the Canadian market,” the airline said.

Last Friday, Thomas Cook cut short its five-year contract with Jazz after only two years.

Halifax-based Jazz, a unit of Chorus Aviation Inc., also flies regional routes on behalf of Air Canada but those services are separate from the contract with leisure travel firm Thomas Cook.

RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst Walter Spracklin said in a research note on Friday that lower-cost WestJet would be positioned to pick up work from Thomas Cook for the 2012-13 winter travel season.

“We are very pleased to announce this expanded relationship,” WestJet chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said in a statement.

Dean Moore, CEO of Thomas Cook North America, said the expanded charter flying will build on “an already strong and mutually beneficial partnership.

Jazz had hoped to diversify away from its main revenue source of Air Canada. Jazz flew to leisure markets such as Mexico and the Caribbean for Thomas Cook, which had to find replacement flights for its Sunquest unit after charter company Skyservice Airlines Inc. went into receivership in the spring of 2010.

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Company Price Change Volume
WestJet Airlines
32.58 5.814 % 1,282,965