An aviation analyst calls the fare changes at WestJet “a lot of hoopla” without a lot of impact.
“I see a lot of smoke,” says Rick Erickson. “But when I look through the smoke, I don’t see a ton of substance there,” he said. While he says WestJet’s pricing initiative of cutting its highest fares by 25% is “clever” from a marketing standpoint, Erickson says WestJet will continue to provide a variety of fares, with prices varying according to convenience and demand.
“It’s not as if WestJet is super-discounting their tickets. They’re not. They’re just relabelling,” Erickson told Canadian Press. “I think most passengers are still driven by the convenience of flying when they want to fly and paying roughly how much they want to pay. I don’t think this is going to change that dynamic.”
WestJet announced last week that it would offer lower fares 330 days ahead of time, as well as cutting its top tier of fares. The airline says the changes mean customers won’t have to wait around for seat sales anymore, but despite some reports, the airline acknowledges that limited time sales will still be part of the mix.
“Seat sales are not going away. We will continue to have them from time to time, as required,” WestJet Vice President Richard Bartrem said Friday. “However, what it does mean is we’re taking these reasonable fares – not the ultra-low ones, but the next step up – and making those available across the entire schedule.”
Erickson says he thinks Air Canada will likely follow suit with its own fare changes in response to WestJet’s moves.