A new reservation system introduced by WestJet Airline’s Ltd. (TSX:WJA) this month marks a key step toward the carrier’s foray into the international arena — and not a moment too soon, according to an airline industry analyst.
“It would have been much better if it had come sooner, but it’s better than not at all,” said Rick Erickson, who is based in Calgary. “Now WestJet can go out and become much more of a globally attractive partner than they had been in the past.” The Calgary-based airline started using the SabreSonic software on Oct. 17. Its rollout was rocky for the first few days but most of the kinks have since been worked out, said WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer. “Just the fact that we had to migrate almost one million passenger records from one system to another, and we did that successfully, is amazing,” he said. “But at the same time we also know that it did mean longer than normal lineups at the airport and longer than normal wait times on the telephone.” Over the weekend, WestJet customers were emailed an open letter from CEO Sean Durfy, thanking them for their patience and apologizing for the inconvenience. “This is not the WestJet experience that you have come to know and expect from us and certainly not how we would like our airline to be recognized,” he said.
And the update is crucial WestJet needed to have a state-of-the-art system to get future code-sharing agreements with U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines and European players like Air France and KLM off the ground.