WestJet CEO retires effective immediately

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018

WestJet Airlines Ltd. says chief executive Gregg Saretsky is retiring effective immediately

Saretsky joined WestJet in June 2009 as vice-president, WestJet Vacations and became chief executive in March 2010.

Under Saretsky’s leadership, WestJet nearly doubled its fleet, launched WestJet Encore and started service to Europe.

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The airline says Ed Sims, WestJet’s current executive vice-president commercial, who has also been appointed to the airline’s board of directors, is replacing him.

Robert Kokonis, the president and managing director of aviation consultant firm AirTrav, says Saretsky did a good job steering WestJet through big changes, but speculates the growing complexity of WestJet could have been a factor in the management changes.

“There’s been a lot of growth under Gregg. Share price has gone up 60 per cent, but perhaps there’s more complex challenges coming down the road and the board felt it was time to make a change,” he said.

Kokonis says some stock analysts who watch the company have shown concern over the “deviation from the pathway of low-cost carrier to being a multiple division, go everywhere, be everything carrier.”

He says he’s not surprised to see Sims take the top spot, but was surprised at the timing of the announcement.

Sims joined WestJet in May 2017 after serving as CEO of Airways, New Zealand’s air navigation service provider.

He also had held senior positions with Tui, Thomas Cook, Virgin Groups and Air New Zealand.