Sunday, December 17, 2006

WestJet - the new Canadian Airlines?

BA CEO Willie Walsh was in Calgary for the launch of the 5-weekly Heathrow-Calgary service. Apparently he wore the mandatory stetson, though I haven't run down a photo - you can bet there would be one if Michael O'Leary was doing it. While there he had a lot to say about Gordon Brown's increase of aviation taxes, such as that the increased total tax at STG400m was far times more than if BA had paid the current market cost of CO2 offsets (STG87m). Obviously the environmental impact of aviation such as noise is more than just CO2 - there's nitrogen oxides, noise, high altitude vapour and so on but Brown should answer whether the money will actually go to ameliorating environmental effects.

He paid a visit to WestJet of whom there have been persistent rumours of joining the OneWorld alliance, especially once their new reservations system comes on-line. WestJet would straddle two major OneWorld partners in AA and BA as the former Canadian Airlines once did and also provide links to carriers like Cathay Pacific out of Vancouver. The question is whether a lowcost without business class on any route is a good fit for OneWorld or a desperate attempt to prop it up compared to the steady growth of Star Alliance. It is curious that WestJet sees an upside in joining just as Aer Lingus are pulling out.
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