I am inclined to think oil prices will come down to the $20-25 range sometime, maybe not for a year but I don't think they'll stay aloft forever, it's just a hunch but I can remember when wheat prices were up about three years ago and now they're way way down, and I believe nickel is down from it's high too, so I see oil as being pretty cyclical in nature with other commodities and likely to at least come down a bit. But who knows. And the 737-200's are fuel guzzlers.
Now as far as the -200's go, I believe there are a few that were built in the '69 or so, actually I think they already replaced a '67 built aircraft. But yes, they are getting old. And I think they'll be replacing a few of the oldest ones, but WJ is expanding pretty rapidly and those new aircraft are rather pricey. I personally believe WJ will keep on most of its mid to late '70's vintage -200 aircraft, and relegate them to regional type routes, maybe to developing some new routes in the west. I could see WJ relegating the -200's to some smaller places and running new aircraft on trunk routes.
As far as -200 maintenance, there's no doubt that they take more work to keep flying, but I wouldn't call them a maintenance pig. Parts are fairly readily availiable, and not too expensive, and putting more labour into the aircraft is cheaper than buying new aircraft, especially for an airline expanding as rapidly as WJ. But who knows, alot of the -200's are about the same age as AC's DC-9's, and I just finished taking someone to the airport for AC171 YWG-YEG, and the plane went mechanical for a 3 hour 57 minute delay, so I hope AC looks for DC-9 replacements and comparing the 9's to WJ's 737-200's, well, maybe the same does go for WJ.
Actually, however, I wouldn't be surprised if WJ picked up a few -200 aircraft from CP when they start retiring them, they have early 80's vintage planes which are a little newer and would give WJ a real boost in growth, as they do need the planes.
For interest's sake, the banner from the Boeing Winnipeg plant for WJ is hanging at WestJet's YWG check-in counters now.
Also, when I read the article in the Wpg Free Press and Mr. Smith said they'd been successful with Brandon, I was wondering if anyone else got the impression he was hinting WJ was considering returning for another trial run there, or adding it permanently. I thought it was rather interesting that he'd mention that run. Maybe when they get the 737NG deliveries they'll have the aircraft to do that. In the mean time I think they should look at extending Moncton flights to St. John's to cover the transcon network, and fill in Montreal and Ottawa, and getting into Windsor should probably be a priority too, in my view.