WestJet has announced the resignation of President and CEO Sean Durfy effective April 1, 2010. Citing personal reasons for his departure, Mr. Durfy will also resign from the board of directors at that time. Mr. Durfy has agreed to remain in an advisory capacity for the carrier until September 2010.
The resignation comes as a surprise and more background will be available after today’s press conference. It is no surprise, however, that WestJet has encountered problems with the implementation of its SabreSonic reservations system causing the carrier’s reputation to suffer with agents and passengers. System issues also delayed the launch of WestJet’s new loyalty programme and implementation of a full code share agreement with AF/KL.
“This was a very difficult decision for me; however, after careful consideration, I have decided that this is best for me and my family,” said Sean Durfy. “Those things I set out to accomplish at WestJet have now been achieved and I believe this is an appropriate time to allow others to carry the torch while I spend more time with my young family.”
Clive Beddoe, WestJet Chairman, added, “We will miss Sean’s passion and leadership at the executive and board level and we sincerely thank him for his tremendous contributions to WestJet over the past several years.” A special committee of the board undertook a process to manage the selection of a new President and CEO.
“After a search for the most suitable candidate capable of supporting our planned growth, extending our brand strength and leading our award-winning culture, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Gregg Saretsky as President and CEO of WestJet effective April 1, 2010,” commented Clive Beddoe.
Gregg Saretsky joined WestJet in June 2009 as Vice-President, WestJet Vacations, before assuming the role of Executive Vice-President, Operations, in October 2009.
Saretsky began his career in the airline industry in 1985 with Canadian Airlines. While at Canadian, he held a number of operations and marketing roles, including Vice-President, Airports, and Vice-President, Passenger Marketing. Following his departure from Canadian in 1998, Gregg joined Seattle-based Alaska Airlines as Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Planning. In December 2008, he left Alaska as Executive Vice-President, Flight and Marketing.
At Alaska, Gregg focused on airline alliances, establishing a network of partners among U.S. airlines. He is also credited with developing the airline’s award-winning reward program and with establishing many cost-saving initiatives.
“These qualifications along with his demonstrated ability to lead a guest-focused culture are ideal for charting and executing our flight path ahead,” said Clive Beddoe.
An executive search to replace Mr. Saretsky’s Executive Vice-President, Operations, role will commence immediately.