Ottawa Will Conduct Public Interest Assessment of Westjet-Sunwing Deal

The federal government will be conducting a public interest assessment of the deal between WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations. The former is buying the latter. In a statement, Ottawa stated that the review would be conducted after getting input from the Commissioner of Competition. It will be responsible for assessing impacts on competition and will include consultations with government departments,  industry and other stakeholders, other levels of government, and even the public.

Transport Canada will need to complete the review by December 5. It will have to share the review with the transport minister. He will then recommend the cabinet regarding the deal, which requires regulatory approval.

In March this year, WestJet shared its plan to buy Sunwing. This new acquisition would boost its holiday tour business. Sunwing's shareholders will become equity holders in the WestJet Group. But more details regarding the financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

As a part of the deal, WestJet plans to create a new tour operator unit that would be based in Toronto. It would include Sunwing Vacations and WestJet Vacations as separate brands. WestJet will also expand to include Sunwing Airlines, which will help add capacity as it turns seasonally operated aircraft into year-round jets.

Thanks to the Canada Transportation Act, the review needs to be completed by a set date. The law says that Transport Canada has up to 150 days to complete this public interest assessment. Still, the Minister has the authority to grant an extension if it is considered necessary. As the proposed transaction is huge, 50 extra days have been granted to Transport Canada and the Commissioner of Competition. It will help ensure sufficient time is available for thorough analysis and assessment. So, now, the department has up to 200 days to complete the review and present it to the Minister.

After the review is submitted, the Minister would provide a recommendation to the Governor in Council (Cabinet) concerning the proposed purchase. The recommendation would incorporate the findings of the Commissioner's report on competition considerations. There is no legislated timeline for the Minister to make his recommendation or the Governor in Council to make a final decision.

About Westjet

In 1996, Clive Beddoe and a team of like-minded partners started WestJet with 3 aircraft, 5 destinations, and 220 friendly WestJetters. Today the company operates 5 different aircraft types and fly to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, The Caribbean, and Europe. Their 14,000 WestJetters are dedicated to flying more than 22 million guests a year, on over 700 flights per day, with a fleet of over 150 aircraft.

About Sunwing

Established in 2002, Sunwing Vacations started as a family business and has grown substantially since, providing more vacation packages to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America than any other travel company from coast to coast. Sunwing is a Canadian-owned and operated company dedicated to delivering frictionless, unique, and memorable vacation experiences to Canadians from coast to coast.


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