WestJet has announced that President and CEO Ed Sims will retire at the end of 2021.
In four years with WestJet, Mr. Sims was responsible for the successful introduction of the company's Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft, the launch of two new airline ventures, the significant expansion of WestJet's international network, as well as the continued growth of WestJet Vacations, WestJet Cargo and the WestJet Rewards program.
Ed Sims will remain as President and Chief Executive, as well as a member of the WestJet Group board of directors until December 2021. Moving forward, he will continue in a senior advisory role with Onex Partners focused on aerospace and aviation.
"I want to thank Ed for his contributions to WestJet's strategy and growth initiatives over the past four years," said Chris Burley, Chairman of WestJet's board of directors. "Ed has led WestJet through the worst crisis in aviation history and will see us through to the end of 2021. We owe our relative strength and stability in no small measure to Ed's leadership and steady hand. On a personal note, we're pleased that Ed will be able to rejoin his family in New Zealand at the end of the year."
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra took to his Twitter on Wednesday to extend his well wishes.
Thank you Ed Sims for your many years of service at the helm of @WestJest," the Minister tweeted. "I benefited from your insights during this challenging period. Your contributions to the air sector are numerous. Wishing you well in your next chapter and much deserved quality time with your family."
Mr. Sims said his time with WestJet has been "an absolute career highlight and a privilege in my 35 years in the travel and aviation industries."
"The global pandemic and the ongoing travel restrictions have separated so many of us for so long from loved ones. With two children in New Zealand, I am prioritizing the needs of family who I will not have seen in two years," Sims said in a statement. "I would like to thank WestJet's founder Clive Beddoe, Onex and past and current board members and my Executive Leadership team who have all been tremendously supportive. My special thanks go to the remarkable group of people who call themselves WestJetters for everything they have achieved."
"Ed was a critical part of Onex' investment in WestJet," said Tawfiq Popatia, a WestJet board member and Senior Managing Director at Onex. "With the WestJet transaction closing in December 2019 and the pandemic hitting Canada in February the following year, we had only a few weeks between closing and the onset of the pandemic and it's hard to overstate the importance of Ed's leadership through this exceptionally challenging period. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Ed."
The board of directors of WestJet has commenced a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.
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