WestJet to be sold to Canadian Onex Corporation

WestJet's fleet of Boeing 737 MAX is currently affected by a worldwide grounding of the aircraft type. Photo: © Ken Fielding

Canadian airline WestJet has today announced that it has reached an agreement with Canadian company and equity firm Onex Corporation to sell the airline in a deal worth CA$5 billion.

If the deal is approved by regulators, Onex Corporation will acquire each share at a price of CA$31, making for a total value of the deal, which includes the airline’s debt, of CA$5 billion. This makes for a premium of 67% on each share according to WestJet. The deal is expected to close either in late 2019 or early 2020 if everything goes through as planned.

WestJet, officially WestJet Airlines Ltd, is Canada’s second largest airline after flag-carrier Air Canada and is in the middle of a fleet renewal program, replacing older Boeing 767-300 aircraft with brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. It is also introducing the Boeing 737 MAX family into its fleet, replacing older 737 Next Generation aircraft. However, the 737 MAX is currently affected by a worldwide grounding, putting pressure on WestJet, which had already taken delivery of 13 of the type.

The airline has an extensive domestic Canadian network and also serves the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and several islands in the Caribbean. It operates long-haul flights to Europe, namely to the UK, France and soon to Ireland and Spain.

WestJet, along with its regional subsidiaries WestJet Encore and WestJet Link, currently operates 179 airplanes, ranging from the Saab 340 to the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Various types of the Boeing 737 account for 122 aircraft in the airline’s fleet.

Onex is a Canadian equity firm based in Toronto which manages assets worth over CA$51 billion and employs over 170.000 people across multiple business areas. WestJet currently is the group’s only venture into the aviation industry.