WestJet Airlines Ltd. has announced that chief executive Gregg Saretsky is retiring effective immediately. The airline says he is being replaced by Ed Sims, WestJet's current executive vice-president commercial, who has also been appointed to the airline's board of directors.
Here’s how WestJet characterized the unexpected development: “Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO, has advised the time has come for him to retire from the company. Having found his successor, he has agreed with the company that his retirement will be effective immediately.”
Saretsky joined WestJet in June 2009 as vice-president, WestJet Vacations, and became chief executive in March 2010. Under his leadership, WestJet nearly doubled its fleet, launched WestJet Encore and started service to Europe. The airline’s stock price rose 64% during Saretzky’s tenure.
"For the past eight years, it's been my privilege to lead team WestJet through a tremendous period of growth and success," Saretsky said in a news release. "I am pleased with the continued growth and profitability we've achieved together. With plans well underway for the launch of Swoop and the introduction of the 787-9 Dreamliners on the horizon, as well as the great work WestJetters do each day, I'm confident WestJet will continue to grow to the next chapter and beyond."
Sims joined WestJet in May 2017 after serving as CEO of Airways, New Zealand's air navigation service provider. He has also held senior positions with Tui, Thomas Cook, Virgin Groups and Air New Zealand.
"I am honoured by the opportunity to assume the role of President and CEO, and believe strongly in WestJet's next global chapter and the growth potential ahead," said Sims.
"In my time at WestJet, I've been inspired by the team's ability to care from the heart while acting like owners. WestJet has a strong challenger's spirit, and I'm thrilled to be able to lead the team onward. I thank Gregg for his leadership, and for setting the foundation for WestJet's global evolution."
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.