WestJet Rebuts Stinging Criticism From Columnist

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Ed Sims

It’s no secret that there’s a whole lot going on at WestJet these days, including expansion at both the low-cost and premium ends of the spectrum, management changes and additions, labour unrest and financial challenges – the airline recently posted its first quarterly loss in 13 years.

The confluence has left the airline vulnerable to questioning, and a particularly stinging example came in a column by Toronto Star business columnist David Olive. The article was headlined: “As Air Canada Soars, WestJet Takes A Predictable Nosedive.” 

Olive called “the reversal of fortunes” at WestJet “one of today’s most compelling business sagas.” 

And it gets worse. Like in this passage from Olive’s column:

“For most of its 22-year existence, the Calgary-based company has been one of the world’s few consistently successful major airlines. But today’s WestJet appears to be on a flight path to mediocrity, or worse. In its most recent quarter, WestJet reported its first loss in 13 years.

Should WestJet investors, employees and customers be worried? In a word, yes.”

According to the airline, Olive didn’t speak to WestJet management directly during the preparation of the article. And the Toronto Star refused to publish a rebuttal written by WestJet President & CEO Ed Sims. Its pointed title: “Wardair Was Wonderful But It’s 2018 Mr. Olive.”

In the blog post, Sims refers to the Toronto Star headline as “click-bait,” and states that the “analysis of the airline situation in Canada contains significant inaccuracies as the author often uses apples-and-oranges comparisons that are misleading.”

In the spirit of balance, interested readers can read Olive’s column through the link above, and Sims’ rebuttal here.

Bruce Parkinson

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.

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