July 10, 2012 / 5:49 PM / in 5 years

WestJet sees short-haul fares well below Air Canada

(Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd’s (WJA.TO) planned Canadian short-haul carrier will likely charge about a third less than its main rival Air Canada ACb.TO for last-minute travel, WestJet’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

“Our last-minute, walk-up fares are 30 percent lower than Air Canada‘s. I would expect that at minimum that fares in the regional space would have a similar relativity,” WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said in an interview.

WestJet, Canada’s No. 2 airline, expects to hire about 1,800 employees for the airline, which it expects to launch in the back end of 2013. The airline currently employs about 8,300.

It will decide to start service, with an initial five to seven aircraft in the first year, in either Western or Eastern Canada, expanding to the other side of the country in the following year, Saretsky said.

WestJet announced in February that it would launch a regional operation to serve smaller Canadian destinations after winning the endorsement of its workforce for the plan that would ratchet up the pressure on Air Canada, which monopolizes many of the routes.

In May, WestJet selected Canada’s Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) to supply turboprop aircraft for the new carrier, which it has not yet named.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver

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