Why is the proposed acquisition of Sunwing Vacations and Suwning Airlines by WestJet Airlines Ltd. being assessed?

    On May 19, 2022, the Minister of Transport decided that the proposed acquisition raises public interest issues related to national transportation and that a public interest assessment is needed. 

     Under the Canada Transportation Act, the Minister had 42 days to decide whether a public interest assessment is needed. Some of the factors considered in making this decision included the potential impact on competition, the cost of travel, and jobs.

    What happens during a public interest assessment?

    Every public interest assessment is different. For this assessment, Transport Canada will gather facts and closely examine how the proposed acquisition would impact the public interest in some of these key areas:  

    • Operating and network efficiencies 
    • Airfares  
    • Passenger experience 
    • Expansion of air connectivity 
    • Trade
    • Innovation and investment 
    • Employment 
    • Safety 
    • Environment 
    • Tourism and international ramifications 
    • Social factors like accessibility issues
    • COVID-19 recovery

    Engagement with stakeholders is critical for a public interest assessment. Transport Canada will speak with air industry stakeholders from across the country, including airlines, airports, and other air industry service providers, as well as consulting with some municipal and provincial governments. In certain circumstances, engaging with the public is an important part of a public interest assessment. This public online consultation will ensure Canadians can share their views on the proposed acquisition.

     At the same time, the Commissioner of Competition will assess how the proposed acquisition would impact competition in the air sector. The Minister will consider both assessments before making a recommendation to the Governor in Council (Cabinet) about the proposed acquisition.

    What happens once the public interest assessment is complete?

    Transport Canada has until December 5, 2022 to complete the public interest assessment and give its findings to the Minister. 

    Based on this assessment, the Minister may ask the department to work with WestJet Group and Sunwing Airlines to address any public interest and competition issues that were raised. The Minister will then give Cabinet his recommendation about the proposed acquisition.

     This recommendation will include competition considerations from the Commissioner of Competition. Cabinet could approve the acquisition as proposed, approve it with some conditions, or reject it.