Canada’s transport ministry has given the okay for WestJet Airlines to acquire Toronto-based Sunwing Vacations and Sunwing Airlines.
The move comes a year after the companies entered into a merger agreement and after what Transport Canada said was a robust review that involved consumer protection groups, unions and the government’s competition bureau.
“After considering the pros and cons, we have made the decision that will allow Sunwing to continue to provide affordable vacation packages to Canadians, create more good jobs and protect current jobs as well as Canadians who have already purchased tickets,” the ministry said.
Under the merger, Sunwing’s network of scheduled and charter flights, which operate primarily within Canada or between Canada and warm destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico, is to be taken over by WestJet, which is Canada’s second largest airline.
The merger is also set to combine WestJet Vacations with Sunwing’s tour operation unit. The combined operation would be based in Toronto and would continue to market the Sunwing and WestJet Vacations brands. WestJet Group’s corporate headquarters are to remain in Calgary. The company also runs ultralow-cost airline Swoop as well as two regional airline subsidiaries.
Transport Canada said that in the absence of the acquisition, Canada’s air transport sector could have faced a significant reduction of affordable vacation offerings.
As part of the approval, WestJet has committed to increasing regional connectivity, improving its baggage handling and maintaining capacity on routes most impacted by the merger, among other considerations.
In a brief statement, WestJet thanked the Canadian government for the approvals.
“The issuance of the order is an important milestone in the process toward closing the transaction,” the company said.
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