WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

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WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by 43S/172E » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:19 am

Copied from PPRuNe and also on Airline Employee Forum

Good Afternoon All:

This article was in today's CBC Business section. This whole issue must make for very challenging encounters with the front line staff at Team Teal which I can only have empathy for.

I wonder why they bought/leased such old aircraft which are prone to maintenance issues? Where was the back up for them?

WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints and compensation - Business - CBC News

Delays and cancellations are plaguing the airline's routes to London, England
By Tracy Johnson, CBC News Posted: Jul 11, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 11, 2016 9:56 AM ET
On June 23, Kellie Power flew from Seattle to London, England, to get married. She booked a flight with WestJet; first leg from Seattle to Calgary, the next leg onto London's Gatwick airport
It did not go well.
Power's flight from Seattle to Calgary had its departure time changed to earlier in the day. Calgary-based WestJet called to notify her, but she didn't answer. When she arrived at the airport, the flight had already taken off and Powers had to spend the night at a hotel in Seattle.
'If they're compensating people at the rate I got, basically, they've been flying people across the Atlantic for free'- Darryl Wilson, WestJet passenger
She arrived in London a day later than planned, but the worst wasn't behind her. When Kellie and her new husband Oscar Power flew out of Gatwick back to Seattle last Monday, the flight was delayed by more than four hours, which caused them to miss their connection.
"We got to the airport and waited six hours for our flight," said Power. "They scheduled us for a new connection, but the already delayed flight was delayed further. We sat on the tarmac for an hour, so missed our new connection as well.
"That was the last flight out of Edmonton, which was where our layover was, so we ended up having to spend the night in Edmonton. We ended up getting into Seattle 18 hours later than we initially planned."
Aviation forums heavy on complaints
To sum up, a day-long delay going out and a nearly day-long delay coming home. A particularly rough experience, especially for a wedding trip. But the Power's story is emblematic of a problem with WestJet's London route, which has been in operation for just over two months.
Airline forums are heavy on complaints. One forum, on airliner.net, has a thread dedicated to WestJet's Gatwick route. Many angry passengers have taken to Twitter, with one theme: delays, schedule changes, and cancellations.
WestJet announced its service to London a little more than a year ago, its first overseas destination for the four wide-bodied Boeing 767 jets that it bought from Qantas. Those jets have an average age of 24 years, which is the core of the problem. They began to have mechanical problems.

In a video posted to WestJet's internal YouTube channel on June 16, 2016, chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky explains the problem, calling the route a "hobbled operation."
"The 767s have been giving us lots of grief, lots of mechanical problems," said Saretsky in the video.
"We're finding that when things break, because some of the parts are so old, we don't have them in store. And then we're doing a global search through the AOG desk to find them and then it's taking two or three days to get these things. We don't want to keep them in stock because they break once every 20 years."
'The 767s have been giving us lots of grief, lots of mechanical problems'- Gregg Saretsky, CEO, WestJet
Saretsky went on to thank front line and other employees who have taken the brunt of passenger dismay and wrangled the booking of hotels and rescheduling of flights.
To ease the situation, WestJet contracted an Omni Air jet to stand in when one of the Boeing 767s needs repairs.
Ian Procter was on one of those flights, an experience that he describes as a bait-and-switch, since he had made plans to use WestJet's in-flight entertainment system for the nine-hour flight from Calgary to London.
Instead the Omni Jet had no personal entertainment system and no WestJet Connect, which is the service that allows passengers to play content on their iPads. The screens were in the middle aisle, there were no power outlets and less leg room than expected.
"We were not even provided with the basic WestJet plane services and leg room,etc," said Procter in an email. "But yet they are allowed to unilaterally change the conditions of the flight we purchased, departure and arrival times, with no notice or compensation?"
In the WestJet video, Saretsky said that the Omni jet would be flying the route, so that the airline would be able to take the four Boeing 767s out of rotation one at a time to check the aircraft. The Omni contract ended July 1.
Compensation required for delayed flights
WestJet's social media team has been active on Twitter responding to complaints. The company said that it's responding to each customer who makes contact.
But its liability is quite a bit bigger.
Darryl Wilson is a travel blogger and aviation buff who booked his flight from Vancouver to London for the very first flight in May. He wanted to take the inaugural flight and did so, documenting the experience on his blog.
Wilson is pleased that WestJet has brought competition to the Canada/Europe routes, but said that the service was lacking. On his way home, his flight was cancelled. He was given the option to wait a day or fly back through Toronto, getting him home late, but at least the same day. The flight was further delayed and he barely made his connection in Toronto, but was at least compensated.

Under the European Denied Boarding and Delayed Flight legislation, Wilson — and anyone else with a delayed flight of more than three hours out of Europe — is entitled to compensation. Wilson received 600 Euros, more than $800, effectively paying for his flight. If his cancelled flight was full, that's approximately $225,000 in compensation for that one flight.
Kellie and Oscar Power, with a flight delayed more than four hours would also each be entitled to 600 Euros under this law.
"It's got to be a big blow to WestJet," said Wilson. "I was not the only one, so if they're compensating people at the rate I got, basically, they've been flying people across the Atlantic for free."
Wilson said that he didn't apply for the compensation and that WestJet contacted him with the information.
WestJet's response
In a statement to CBC News, WestJet said that the non-stop service to London Gatwick represents the longest flights WestJet has operated in its 20-year history.
"As is the case with any new aircraft type, including the Q400 when we started operating it, we have experienced a number of delays as we gain experience on the new aircraft type," spokesperson Lauren Stewart said in the statement.
WestJet also said that fewer than five per cent of the flights to London have been cancelled and "In every case we either chartered an aircraft or provided guests with travel on other airlines to ensure the issues with their travel plans were mitigated as quickly as possible."
"This is a temporary situation and we fully anticipate to be operating at our normal performance levels in the near future."
The ramifications may last longer though. Neither Kellie nor Oscar Power have ever flown WestJet before. When asked if she would again, she said no.
"This was my first time with them and my last time."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/westjet ... -1.3670418
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by brooks » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:04 am

Pretty lame story. Slow news Monday?
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by altiplano » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:22 pm

What happened? westjet forgot to send a bottle and some flight passes to the CBC newsroom this month?

Seriously though it seems like as important a story as any.

People's vacations, weddings, travel plans disrupted...

inadequate accommodation on replacement aircraft...

simple direct trips turning into days long affairs through other airports after delays and cancellations...

But most importantly: an airline CEO admitting on video willingly inadequate support for the operations because they are cheap and don't want to stock parts for what are already old, breaking down, inadequately maintained airframes.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by atphat » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:44 pm

Brooks is to WJ what Rush Limbaugh is to the Republican Party.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by plhought » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:45 pm

altiplano wrote:But most importantly: an airline CEO admitting on video willingly inadequate support for the operations because they are cheap and don't want to stock parts for what are already old, breaking down, inadequately maintained airframes.
Plenty of outfits out there available to offer them a consignment program for those harder-to-find parts. And there's no excuse them not having parts for "old" airplanes in stock. There's a kajillion 767's out there with spares all over the world. A lot easier to stock then some other types in operation around these parts.

At ~$200,000 grand for each delay out of Europe, suddenly keeping that $175,000 part in stock doesn't seem so stupid.

Talked to some Qantas LAME's via FB and they loved those machines - many of them worked on them since their initial arrival into Oz. They are scratching their heads why WJA is having such trouble with them.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by porcsord » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:03 pm

That'll learn em for being cheap and not just getting 787's

edited to add: Maybe the pilots are just a bunch of whiney snaggy cry babies who forgot what it's like to operate non-NG aircraft...
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by crazyaviator » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:14 pm

In the old days, using older 737 s on DOMESTIC routes to START the company was a GOOD move, NOW, using OLD A/C on a highly competitive international route seems like they were trying to bring back the glory days of start-up and applying it to a whole different scenario !!!!
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by 43S/172E » Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:39 am

More from PPRuNe

Good Morning All:

I have been reading some interesting postings on the Airline Employee Forum which has some very thought-provoking comments. One poster by the name of "Dagger" who I have always found an erudite writer said this

"These planes are lemons. And you can't make lemonade with them. There always is a trade-off between the cost of the product and the price charged for it. WestJet positioned itself as the ultra low cost, no frills operator on the LGW routes. But to offer a stripped down product at the lowest possible base fare, management opted for the cheapest possible lift (or they overpaid for crap in which case they deserve all this grief). Going ultra low fare meant leasing old planes and perhaps ones more experienced overseas operators had rejected, or would recognize as substandard upon physical inspection by seasoned 767 maintenance staff.
Going forward, the answer is probably to move up the cost curve a bit, get better lift, maybe upgrade the in-flight product just a bit, and charge a little more. WestJet needs good used lift to make this work, and since fuel prices will be higher next summer - mark my word on that - WestJet might have to charge more anyway.
Long term, sticking with this junk and even junkier backup will harm the airline's reputation. So I expect something different for next summer on the North Atlantic.
I will add one bit of schadenfreude: It's funny how Gregg keeps trying to come across as this know-it-all who is smarter than all the bumpkins at those legacy airlines with all their costs. The fact is, there are no short cuts that haven't been discovered. If you could run a reliable international carrier with only old, unreliable long-haul aircraft, and make a lot of money, Boeing and Airbus would not sell another long-haul aircraft."

Another poster who says he works for Team Teal said this

"It's been pretty embarrassing to see how unreliable the 767's have been. I've told friends and family to avoid booking us to LGW which is something I've never said to anyone. While we could look back and do hundreds of things differently I'm pretty confident that we'll learn from our mistakes and move forward. If one thing has surpassed my expectations it's the loads. There is definitely a market for us."

To me this is written in a very pragmatic fashion devoid of the "Kool-Aide" that is the norm for Team teal.

Another poster said this about Jazz's foray into the Wide Body world

"Chorus Aviation - using its regional airline subsidiary Jazz Aviation - went from no large aircraft or transoceanic flights to 6 B757 flying Caribbean/Central America/South America in 9 months. Started the operation on schedule with full regulatory approvals and never once had to sub charter to cover MTC IRROPS. Not every flight left on time but customer inconveniences were rare in an operation where all 6 aircraft were fully allocated most days of the week.
WJ needs to stop making excuses and take a hard look at why they cannot execute the addition of a fleet type with any reasonable degree of reliability. It looks like they decided to do it on the cheap and that some of the program managers and senior decision makers are in over their head."

More can be found at

http://theairlinewebsite.com/topic/4...s-in-the-news/
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by altiplano » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:50 am

Quoting a forum that is quoting a forum, on another forum...
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Old fella » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:36 am

altiplano wrote:Quoting a forum that is quoting a forum, on another forum...
+1

Having zilch knowledge of airline ops,but I am willing to suggest to anybody to name any airline that didn't have some type of growing pain introducing a new service/type. Yes, negative commentary has been posted but I do imagine there is equal commentary on the positive side as well....... just saying. I never worked for any airline nor do I shill for a specific one other that to suggest in my experience, I have been treated well by all I have used for business/personal pleasure vacation.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Realitychex » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:32 pm

History has a nasty way of repeating itself.

Apparently no one has noticed that after holding out for 60 days, AC has gone down the exact same pricing rabbit hole as WJ suckered them into in 1996. It took AC about the same amount of time to capitulate 20 years later.

As predicted on this file since day one, history is repeating itself.

YYC-YVR one way fare pre WJ: $294. Post WJ: $69. A 76% reduction. AC and CP reaction? "No problem". We all know what transpired.

YVR-LHR one-way fare up to a few days ago: $1,628. YVR-LHR fare with new one-way discount pricing: $525, a 68% discount.

No advance purchase req'd from all markets in BC to LHR, markets in the ROC require, at least for now, 7 day advance booking to obtain the discount one way fare. Previous to this, there was no discount on o/w pricing to LHR, formally a premium market, regardless of advance booking.

Inevitable reaction? Likely identical to 1996: "No problem".

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

:lol:
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by complexintentions » Thu Jul 14, 2016 10:04 am

The same? Is Air Canada also eating the odd $225,000 for compensation for flights cancelled due to old broken-down equipment?

LOL

Only Realitychex could spin this disastrous launch as a win. No one else could seriously see this as acceptable performance. The same hubris he displays is why WestJet is in trouble. Turns out you can't apply the same operational practices to widebody longhaul flying in a few used a/c, as you can with a large fleet of new shorthaul a/c. Who knew? (Besides uh, everyone.)

He should perhaps read and learn from the poster "Dagger"'s comments. Now there's someone who's forgotten more about the industry than Realitychex will ever know...
The ramifications may last longer though. Neither Kellie nor Oscar Power have ever flown WestJet before. When asked if she would again, she said no.

"This was my first time with them and my last time."
Not what I remember from the startup in 1996. And I was there.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by North Shore » Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:12 pm

I think that 'Chex's, and Westjet's, bet is that, given the price of their competitors, enough people will come back to make the enterprise profitable...time, as always, will tell.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Mr. North » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:06 am

North Shore wrote:I think that 'Chex's, and Westjet's, bet is that, given the price of their competitors, enough people will come back to make the enterprise profitable...time, as always, will tell.
That will most certainly happen. If there is one thing I've learned during my time in aviation, it's that the travelling public is extremely fickle and equally forgetful. We've all heard it before or read the comments on CBC, how so-and-so will "never ever fly with (insert airline here) again!" But if that really were the case both AC and WJ would be long gone by now. Burried by their own "poor service" and "nightmarish travel conditions". Instead both airlines are still here ...and growing.

Sure, WJ rollout of the 67 program has been deplorable. Too much time in the hangar, not enough rest for crews, and $225K per cancellation is certainly alarming. Quite obvious to see now that too many corners were cut to bring long haul service online. That all being said, the loads have been good. And once Encore matures the demand will be even stronger. The only way forward through this debacle is for WJ to double down on it's wide body investment and buy more (hopefully newer) aircraft.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Airbrake » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:03 pm

I know that numerous pieces of the 67 issues fall on WJ's lap, does anyone know if the maintenance issues are actually falling on theirs or Boeings? There must be a performance guarantee when it comes out of a Boeing maintenance program. I've heard rumours that all costs associated with the maintenance headaches have been paid for by Boeing. If that is the case, the financial hit may not be as grave as some may be indicating.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by culver10 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:27 pm

If you check out Flightaware right now, you will see that all 3 WJ flights to LGW are pretty much on time! It has been that way for the past couple of weeks. It looks like the maintenance issues are hopefully getting worked out.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by atphat » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:50 am

Mr. North wrote: Sure, WJ rollout of the 67 program has been deplorable. Too much time in the hangar, not enough rest for crews, and $225K per cancellation is certainly alarming. Quite obvious to see now that too many corners were cut to bring long haul service online. That all being said, the loads have been good. And once Encore matures the demand will be even stronger. The only way forward through this debacle is for WJ to double down on it's wide body investment and buy more (hopefully newer) aircraft.
Which they will do. WJ will be just fine. This is the only market they can grow in......and grow they will.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Transonic » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:28 am

I sense that most feel WS is at fault for this lackluster performance however I believe it rests mainly on Boeing.

My impression, from anecdotal sources, is that Boeing shoehorned WS into the 767.

In early 2014, when Qantas’ fleet of 767s hit the market, WS engineers inspected the aircraft and were not impressed. As WS wanted a small fleet of common aircraft the market was small. The other major retiring fleet of comparable aircraft was EK’s A332s, which I believe were 2006 builds. WS maintenance favored the A332 and Airbus offered free pilot training with free ground equipment to support loading of the LD3 containers. In spring 2014, it seemed almost certain WS would lease A332s.

Boeing then proposed an unprecedented deal. Boeing engineers would accompany WS maintenance in another trip to SYD to inspect the 767s. Boeing then proposed to buy the aircraft through an obscure entity called Boeing Capital, replace engines and landing gear, and overhaul to Canadian standards. The aircraft would then be leased to WS for two years. The promise was that these aircraft would be turnkey on delivery and like new. It was a deal that could not be turned down.

Boeing has no overhaul capabilities and subcontracted a new, flyby night, MRO that had no 767 or TC experience. The plan quickly fell off the rails. WS feared a late delivery and interjected a small team in Lake Charles Louisiana to assist in Boeing’s contractual obligations. The aircraft were delivered late with many outstanding issues.

The only official statement I’ve seen or read regarding the contract with Boeing was from WestJet’s CEO on BNN. (Clip is now removed) He had stated that they were in talks with Boeing over remunerations due to the contractual obligations of delivery and serviceability. Word on the street is that Boeing is paying for the OMNI lift.

With a large 737MAX order and a potential 787-9 order, there is much happening behind the scenes that only those in the executive level know.
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Last edited by Transonic on Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by altiplano » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:57 am

LOL blame Boeing!

There are no surprises here and pointing fingers at Boeing a cop out. Boeing didn't force these onto Westjet!

Westjet chose the cheapest solution to open overseas and then f-d it up while running an overly aggressive schedule WRT utilisation. That is their choice. Period. Expecting to buy clapped out desert queens and have a smooth startup is clearly unrealistic.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Realitychex » Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:38 am

Transonic wrote:I sense that most feel WS is at fault for this lackluster performance however I believe it rests mainly on Boeing.

My impression, from anecdotal sources, is that Boeing shoehorned WS into the 767.

In early 2014, when Qantas’ fleet of 767s hit the market, WS engineers inspected the aircraft and were not impressed. As WS wanted a small fleet of common aircraft the market was small. The other major retiring fleet of comparable aircraft was EK’s A332s, which I believe were 2006 builds. WS maintenance favored the A332 and Airbus offered free pilot training with free ground equipment to support loading of the LD3 containers. In spring 2014, it seemed almost certain WS would lease A332s.

Boeing then proposed an unprecedented deal. Boeing engineers would accompany WS maintenance in another trip to SYD to inspect the 767s. Boeing then proposed to buy the aircraft through an obscured entity called Boeing Capital, replace engines and landing gear, and overhaul to Canadian standards. The aircraft would then be leased to WS for two years. The promise was that these aircraft would be turnkey on delivery and like new. It was a deal that could not be turned down.

Boeing has no overhaul capabilities and subcontracted a new, flyby night, MRO that had no 767 or TC experience. The plan quickly fell off the rails. WS feared a late delivery and interjected a small team in Lake Charles Louisiana to assist in Boeing’s contractual obligations. The aircraft were delivered late with many outstanding issues.

The only official statement I’ve seen or read regarding the contract with Boeing was from WestJet’s CEO on BNN. (Clip is now removed) He had stated that they were in talks with Boeing over remunerations due to the contractual obligations of delivery and serviceability. Word on the street is that Boeing is paying for the OMNI lift.

With a large 737MAX order and a potential 787-9 order, there is much happening behind the scenes that only those in the executive level know.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

There are 2 issues here:

1. The operational reliability of the 767 fleet. It has clearly been unacceptable, but otp over the last few weeks is remarkably improved.

2. The commercial viability of WS's TATL operations. This has been established. Anyone who thinks / hopes that WJ TATL is going to go away is dreaming in technicolor.

There is one issue that currently stands in the way of further TATL expansion. It has very little to do with points one and two.

8)
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by fish4life » Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:12 pm

What's the issue?
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by moe » Sun Jul 17, 2016 11:05 am

...

WB Pilot MOA

...
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by True North » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:39 pm

altiplano wrote:Expecting to buy clapped out desert queens and have a smooth startup is clearly unrealistic.
They didn't buy "desert queens" they bought freshly overhauled airplanes from Boeing. If they came out of that overhaul in questionable condition then it certainly is on Boeing, which I guess is why Boeing is picking up a large part of the tab created by this debacle.
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by Radcap55 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:48 pm

Whats the problem with the MOA?
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Re: WestJet flights to London prompting a wave of complaints

Post by complexintentions » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:50 pm

If they came out of that overhaul in questionable condition then it certainly is on Boeing, which I guess is why Boeing is picking up a large part of the tab created by this debacle.
This is an unsubstantiated rumour. There's no way anyone outside of higher management at either company knows the terms of a deal like this.

Why is so hard for WS and their supporters to admit they may have underestimated the difficulty in starting a new operation? Instead of taking the defensive tone that essentially, they really wanted EK's old junk and not Boeing's, but Boeing pressured them, sorry "shoehorned" them into the deal and so WestJet is a victim, boo hoo?

Kind of a loserish face-saving tactic. Sorry, but the buck stops with WS. If they didn't do their due diligence, that's on them - they're the ones selling tickets, not Boeing or Airbus.

For the pax sake, glad to hear OTP is improving. But the assertion that the commercial viability has been proven is amusing. I can't see a service that's barely started running and paying out big compensation being terribly lucrative. Longterm perhaps, but a bit of whistling past the graveyard at this point.
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