WestJetters and the 'Mom and Pop Shop' They Own

Are you a business person spending way too much time and money flying between destinations? There is a solution. Start your own airline.


A mathematical formula calculated by British Economics professor Ian Walker has found that time actually is money. Just in case you are interested, the formula is: V=(W((100-t)/100))/C, where ‘V' is the value of an hour, ‘W' is a person's hourly wage, ‘t' is the tax rate and ‘C' is the local cost of living. Walker says this process can show people just how valuable their time is in relation to any task they have to perform. Performing an average of 65 turns a day in Calgary, WestJet has put the "time is money" theory into practice by introducing Dewbridge's Over-the-Wing boarding bridge and, in mid-December 2006, will be the trial customer for field-testing the NMC Wollard Mongoose, an innovative angled beltloader that will also trim ramp hours by one, sometimes even two ramp agents.

THE OLYMPICS AT WESTJET?

In Canada, compared to the more expansive ground handling operations at several of the major U.S. airports, the WestJet TAC Team has intentionally developed an individualized approach. "Here with our TAC Team, it's… more personalized," says Tinevez. "We have a bit more fun with people. The support team quite often brings down glove warmers and hot chocolate on a weekly or bi-weekly basis because we want to take care of our people." In fact, there is a blog on the internet giving examples of tongue and cheek announcements made by both the pilots and the flight attendants. The blogger comments, "You gotta love the Canadian sense of humor! WestJet is definitely an employer that encourages their employees to have fun at work!"

Speaking of fun, WestJet held its first Ground Ops Olympics sponsored by Boeing, FMC, Marsh Inc. and TUG Technologies on September 15, 2005 at the WestJet hangar in Calgary, Alberta. "The event was our way of saying thank you to our handling partners, such as ATS, Penauille Servisiar, Swissport and Worldwide Flight Services. It was a chance for the handlers to showcase their best agents from around the country," explains Bentley. "Turnout was great. We had agents from across Canada from Victoria to Moncton that joined into our friendly competition." WestJet ramp agents participated in events such as the "pushback challenge", the "chock-put" and the "cart slalom" as part of the overall competition. They are hoping to turn the Ground Ops Olympics into a traditional event every two years.

Declining fuel prices, a resilient Canadian economy, rational pricing from Air Canada and the disappearance of Halifax-based CanJet all bode well for the Calgary carrier according to analyst Ben Cherniavsky of Raymond James.

Air Canada remains WestJet's primary competitor, though they have yet to achieve the low-cost structure that has been the foundation of WestJet's success. Ironically, Canadians are willing to pay higher fares to fly now… though still not nearly as much as Beddoe paid 15 years ago. Beddoe stepped aside as the president of WestJet in the first week of September 2006 and appointed Sean Durfy, 40, who has had the role of executive vice president of sales and marketing and airports. According to Bentley, Clive will continue as chairman and CEO for WestJet, but honestly, if he is anything like Herb Kelleher, the man who's model set the stage for WestJet and who's still very much involved in the industry, we will continue to hear and learn from Clive "Pop" Beddoe of this "Mom and Pop Shop" in Canada.

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