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Mar 8, 2018

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky retiring, to be replaced by Ed Sims

With Gregg Saretsky out, WestJet's path may change: Analyst

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The president and CEO of WestJet is retiring.  

Gregg Saretsky will be replaced by Ed Sims, the company’s executive vice president of commercial, effective immediately.

Sims is an aviation industry veteran, having previously served at Thomas Cook, Virgin and Air New Zealand. Before joining WestJet last year he was CEO of New Zealand’s air traffic control service. 

"I am honoured by the opportunity to assume the role of president and CEO, and believe strongly in WestJet's next global chapter and the growth potential ahead," Sims said in a statement.

On his first day on the job, Sims letter to employees thanking Saretsky and mapping out his leadership values.

“Let me take a moment to thank Gregg for everything he has given WestJet,” he wrote. “He has been a great mentor for me over the eight years we've known each other.”

“My own leadership style is based on core personal values of accountability, resilience, aspiration, transparency and humility. These values come together in a passion for structure, discipline and process, and we will need all three by the bucket load to deliver on our work ahead.”

Sims steps in as WestJet is attempting to start the Swoop ultra-low-cost unit this year and to expand international long-distance service with the planned deployment of

Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner wide-body jets. The carrier is mired in tough labour negotiations with its pilots, who are seeking to sign their first bargaining agreement -– a development that may cut into WestJet’s cost advantage over larger rival Air Canada.

As Saretsky makes his exit, he says he's proud of the airline’s accomplishments.

"For the past eight years, it's been my privilege to lead team WestJet through a tremendous period of growth and success," Saretsky said in a statement.

"I am pleased with the continued growth and profitability we've achieved together. With plans well underway for the launch of Swoop and the introduction of the 787-9

Dreamliners on the horizon, as well as the great work WestJetters do each day, I'm confident WestJet will continue to grow to the next chapter and beyond."

Saretsky has been with the airline since 2009, when he joined as vice president of WestJet Vacations, and then assumed the role of executive VP of operations in October of that year. He entered the position of president and chief executive officer in 2010.

"Gregg has taken WestJet to new heights during his tenure and the airline would not be in the strong position it is without Gregg's business knowledge, drive and work ethic, and his focus on low costs," said WestJet Board of Directors' Chair Clive Beddoe.

-- With files from Bloomberg News 

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