Our story

Since our first flight in 1996, we've sought to enrich the lives of everyone in our world by providing safe, friendly and affordable air travel. Right from the start, we put our guests and our people first; in doing so, we've become one of Canada's most admired and respected corporate cultures. We’ve also had a lot of fun along the way. Today, flying to more than 100 destinations, we stay true to our principles and continue to strive for the highest standards of service and success.

  • 1996

    We took flight on Feb 29, 1996.

    A great leap forward for Canadian air travel – on leap year day, no less.

    Why “WestJet”? Co-founder Mark Hill's Mom came up with the name. We're glad she did, as it sounds a lot better than “ABC Air”.

  • 1997

    No frills. Fresh uniforms. Friendly, customer-first attitude. Our first impression with Canadians is a good one, making our second year in business a very good one.

  • 1998

    What's better than flying our two millionth guest? Flying guest number three million. We passed both milestones as 1.6 million guests flew WestJet this year.

  • 1999

    WestJet goes public. Our initial public offering was held June 13, 1999. Shares went on sale at $10, and by year end were valued at $18.

  • 2000

    The new millennium, and the dawning of a new age, as the little airline that could – but wouldn't fly east of Winnipeg – adds Ottawa and Moncton as destinations, with Hamilton as our eastern hub.

    More history: 2000 saw every full-time WestJetter take home record profit share.

  • 2001

    The year that tested the entire industry. After September 11, it was critical that we got back to the business of looking after our guests as soon as possible. We were the first Canadian airline back in the sky, and we worked diligently to ensure the transition to a more secure airspace didn't hamper the comfort or safety of our guests.

  • 2002

    WestJet moves into the business travel market, introducing service to Toronto and London, Ontario. Our shares split three for two for the second time, while revenues increase 42 percent.

  • 2003

    You can't run an airline on peanuts. Spicy snack mix? You bet. WestJetters took to the streets, telling our story and handing out spicy snack mix. Just another fun example of doing things a bit differently, in our most profitable year to date.

  • 2004

    Let's fly south. WestJet introduces service to several U.S. destinations: New York City, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.

  • More ways to serve: WestJet adopts common-use check-in kiosks to further enhance our self-service options for our guests. Our buy-on-board program introduces inflight food purchase menus. And after lengthy testing, WestJet now offers live seatback TV on flights. (Lengthy testing = the first three seasons of The Sopranos).

  • 2005

    We retired our 200-series 737s, with flights to our original five destinations, gifts for local children's hospitals, and a “fly bye” of the YYC hangar. No gold watches. The retirement left us with one of North America's most modern airline fleets.

  • 2006

    Celebrating ten years in style. WestJet goes international. Choosing our first international destination was easy: Bahamas, here we come.

  • WestJet Vacations launches, offering affordable, reliable and easy booking of vacation packages. WestJet is soon Canada's carrier of choice to Hawaii.

  • 11.2 million guests flew WestJet this year. That's like flying the entire population of Beijing. We don't fly to Beijing yet, but when we do, we'll be able to fly the entire city.

  • 2007

    We continue breaking new ground, becoming the first North American airline to offer convenient paperless boarding passes. We also literally broke ground on our new headquarters at YYC airport. And for the third year in a row, WestJet is named in the top ten of Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures.

  • 2008

    “Who is WestJet?” Our April Fool's Day story about sleeper cabins was quite a hit, even landing us on Jeopardy! This year’s winter weather was no joke, however: as storms stranded thousands of passengers, WestJetters worked around the clock to ensure all our guests were well looked after.

  • 2009

    We celebrate the grand opening of our new home.

    The $100 million building is LEED-certified, providing a healthy, friendly and dynamic workplace for WestJetters – and is also home to one of Calgary's busiest Starbucks locations. (We do like our coffee.)

  • 2010

    Attitude is everything. WestJet flight attendants are named the industry's best, in a 2010 survey of air travelers. Friendly attitude and outstanding customer service were named as the top two factors.

  • 2011

    Our reputation for excellence gains recognition with a nifty hat trick: WestJet is listed among Canada's Top 100 Employers, is named one of Aon Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada, and is named a JD Power Customer Service Champion.

  • 2012

    Still young, but already we've hit a century: WestJet takes delivery of our 100th Boeing 737 Next Generation Aircraft.

  • A great idea not only has legs, it's got wings and props. WestJet Encore takes off, bringing affordable air travel to more people in more communities. Our aircraft of choice: the Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop.

  • 2013

    We might just need a bigger garage: WestJet signs a letter of intent to purchase 65 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with deliveries commencing in 2017.

  • In December we unveiled the Magic Plane, custom painted with a Walt Disney World Resort theme. Featuring Mickey Mouse in his role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the Magic Plane may well be the happiest aircraft in the sky.

  • 2014

    WestJet crosses the pond. We celebrate our first transatlantic flight and love of all things Irish by introducing seasonal non-stop service to Dublin, Ireland.

  • 2015

    Another great year and boy, were we busy. There was definitely a buzz in the air when the first of four wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft joined our fleet. Also, our Disney Frozen-themed plane arrived and we couldn’t wait to let it go.

  • As the year came to a close, WestJetters across our network performed almost 32,000 mini miracles for WestJet Christmas. And we welcomed 20 million guests. Like we said: busy.