Court approves Westjet purchase by Onex


Westjet’s takeover by Onex Corporation cleared one its few remaining significant hurdles Friday when an Alberta court approved the terms that would make Westjet a private company.

Shareholders gave their approval on Tuesday, and Canada’s Transport Minister gave his tacit approval when he decided not to review the $5 billion deal.

Only a few regulatory approvals remain, and Westjet expects the deal to be finalized in the coming months.

The court’s approval came on the same day Westjet announced a return to profitability. The airline posted a $44 million profit in its second quarter, a 380% improvement over the same time last year (when it lost almost $16 million).

“We are very pleased with this significant return to second quarter profitability.” said WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims. “I want to acknowledge the remarkable effort of all 14,000 WestJetters who rose to the challenge of delivering this notable improvement in year over year performance and thank all of our guests for their continued loyalty.”

The airline posted revenues of more than $1.2 billion, up 11.5% from 2018. Available seat miles rose 2.8%, while revenue passenger miles were up an impressive 6.8%, leading to an impressive 87.2% load factor. Loads have risen dramatically at both Westjet and Air Canada due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max after a pair of fatal crashes. Thousands of flights have been removed from both airlines’ schedules. No timeline for the plane’s return to service has been set.

When, as expected, Westjet becomes a private company, it will not be obliged to report such detailed data, since there will be no outside investors owning shares. Sims has said the Onex deal will allow executives to focus on long-term plans, without having to worry about quarterly results.