Correction, Air Transat is Canada’s leisure airline. Westjet is considered Canada’s second national airline, its main business is derived from primarily domestic air service as that is where they are currently well focused according to their route map. However prior to covid 19 , Westjet was priming for more international growth. You cannot describe Westjet as simply leisure orientated when they have focused and continue to ,over the years ,on the Toronto -Montreal Ottawa triangle and the Toronto -Laguardia route.
Its pending Department of Transportation approval for its trans border joint venture with Delta is also a clue that Westjet is trying to further strengthen its position in the usa-canada market, therefore not just a leisure airline. It may have started as small domestic discount airline, but has or is morphing into a full service carrier aimed at attracting a wide range of business .
I consider Rouge and Westjet to both be leisure carriers. I understand your points and WS has been trying hard to break into the AC lock on business travel, particularly transborder and now Europe, but the reality is that they are a long way behind AC in business travel and, without doing the research, I would assert potentially behind or neck and neck with several US carriers in terms of business travellers Canada-US. The recent CEOs and new owners of WS want it to move away from the original model, but they were still finding their way beyond leisure travellers when covid hit and my original point is that it surprised me they were brining those routes back so quickly given the amount of capital that would be required to subsidize flights that have yet to build themselves beyond leisure traffic which is presently close to non-existent transborder.
Just to add some light , leisure carriers are airlines that focus on the transportation of tourists.
Canada......Air Canada Rouge, Sunwing, Air Transat
UK......TUI-Thomson, Thomas Cook, and in the past Monarch, Brittania, etc.
France.....Corsair, XL Airways,.
Israel......Arkia, Sun D'Or
Westjet does not focus on tourists. During the border shut down , Westjet continues to fly nationally, funnelling domestic travel, a key performer of revenue for the company . Notice how the three holiday airlines Transat Sunwing and Rouge currently are grounded whereas the national carriers Air Canada and Westjet continue to service the domestic market.
In the past, the term “charter airline” was widely used to describe these airlines as most holiday flights were then not sold directly by the airline to the passengers but were included in charter packages offered by tour operators. Nowadays, however, many holiday flights are operated as scheduled, albeit often seasonal services.
leisure carriers achieve low costs per seat mile in focusing on direct point-to-point flights using homogenous fleets of medium to large aircraft with high-density seating.
Westjet uses hub and spokes. Leisure carriers offer very low frequency to sun destinations whereas a hybrid airline like Westjet currently is, offers least daily frequencies on most routes.
Finally, Westjet has a frequent flyer program , a leisure airline would not have this, example sunwing , tui. Westjet’s first owned business lounge will be opening this summer in Calgary, something a leisure airline does not possess.
By true definition , Westjet is not defined as a Leisure airline but more as a hybrid airline ( somewhere between a low cost and full service airline) until they fully complete their transition to full service carrier.
The plan for transitioning the carrier began long before Onex purchased the company. This road path was cleared and approved by the previous board pf directors during the years of then ceo Greg Saretsky. Onex is a cash infusion with the current management executing the continuation of the business transformation plan.