Air Canada is a major partner with UNIGLOBE Travel.
Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance, a grouping of the leading carriers in the regions they serve. As of March 26, the Star Alliance members are: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Ansett Australia, Austrian Airlines Group, Lufthansa German Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines System - SAS, Thai Airways International, United Airlines, VARIG Brazilian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Mexicana Airlines and British Midland Airways will join later this year. With the addition of the new members, the Star Alliance network will cover more than 800 destinations in 130 countries.
In partnership with Air Canada in Canada, United Airlines in the United States, SAS in Europe and Thai International Airways in Asia, Lufthansa was one of the founding partners in a global airline alliance called Star Alliance, formed in 1997. The original partners have seen added to their network the schedules of the Brazilian airline Varig, Air New Zealand of New Zealand and Ansett Australia of Australia. In October 1999 All Nippon Airways joined Star Alliance and recently this year Austrian Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines have joined.
Direct benefits to travelers include faster travel time with coordinating and complementing schedules, a dense network of worldwide connections and point served, passenger and luggage check through to final destination and expanded Frequent Flyer Programs, with joint lounge usage. Air Canada, in partnership with Lufthansa, offers some of the best schedules and routings from Canada to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
WestJet was founded in 1996 by Clive Beddoe, Mark Hill, Tim Morgan and Donald Bell, four Calgary entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to provide low fare air travel across western Canada. Through researching other successful airlines in North America - and in particular low-cost carriers from throughout the continent - the team followed the primary examples of Southwest Airlines and Morris Air and determined that a similar concept could be successful in Western Canada.
Over the subsequent months, the team worked to develop a comprehensive business plan and financial model. With this information in hand, a number of local business people were approached and within 30 days the needed capital was raised. After purchasing the three original Boeing 737-200 aircraft, a second offering to retail and institutional investors was completed in January 1996, raising the necessary capital to commence operations.
On February 29, 1996, the airline started flight operations with 220 employees and three aircraft to the cities of Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. Since that time, the company has continued to expand, bringing more western cities into WestJet's world. In 1996, WestJet added Victoria, Regina and Saskatoon to its route network. In 1997, WestJet began service to Abbotsford/Fraser Valley, and in 1999 WestJet added Thunder Bay, Prince George, and Grand Prairie to its service area.
WestJet achieved a major milestone when in July 1999 it completed its Initial Public Offering of 2.5 million common shares. It was an exciting day for all WestJetters, representing the achievement of a key business goal and raising the necessary capital for expansion of the company into the coming years. With the help of lead underwriters CIBC World Markets and the dedicated executive team, WestJet has made a successful transition to a public company. The capital raised from the offering has been and will be used for the purchase of additional aircraft, as well as the building of new Head Office and Hangar facilities in Calgary, in order to meet the needs of the company's expanding workforce.
1999 saw unprecedented change and restructuring in the airline industry in Canada, offering a window of opportunity for WestJet to expand its service beyond its current route structure. In December 1999, WestJet announced that it would be extending its successful low fare airline across Canada. Between March and June 2000, the company added service to the eastern Canadian cities of Hamilton, Moncton, and Ottawa, creating an eastern network with Hamilton as the hub.
In 2000, WestJet's four founders were honoured as 'The Ernst & Young Entreprenuer of the Year' for Canada, in recognition of the contributions they have made to Canadian travelers and the lives of all of WestJet's people and shareholders. In 2001, WestJet added new service to Fort McMurray, Comox, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thompson and Limited Addition flights to Brandon. In 2001, WestJet also added its first four new generation Boeing 737 aircraft. Also, in 2001, Clive, Don, Mark, and Tim received an International Entrepreneurship award for Outstanding Teamwork in Monaco.
This year, WestJet has added service to two new Ontario destinations, London and Toronto. In addition to adding new aircraft and improved route frequency, WestJet celebrated its 21st quarter of profitability with their 2002 First Quarter results. WestJet is proud to be Canada's only low-fare airline.