WestJet sees big lift from "premium economy" seats

TORONTO Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:16am IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   
Inside the Peshawar school

Inside the Peshawar school

The aftermath inside the Pakistan school where at least 132 students and nine staff members were killed by Taliban gunmen.  Pictures 

TORONTO (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) expects a multi-million dollar lift from its new "premium economy" seating, and is planning a new in-flight entertainment system that will reduce costs, the chief executive of Canada's second-largest airline said on Tuesday.

The new screenless entertainment system, to be tested next year, would let travelers hook up their own device to access Internet content along with live and taped television, movies and music, CEO Gregg Saretsky said at a Scotiabank transportation conference.

"If it all works, we can remove the seat back (screens), you bring your own tablet or iPad or computer or smartphone and we will beam the content to your device," he said in a webcast presentation.

The shift would remove about 1,200 pounds from each aircraft and cut fuel costs, he said.

WestJet has not yet determined if it will charge for content offered through travelers' own devices, and whether it will use ground towers or satellites to support the entertainment system.

With plans to introduce premium economy seating next year, Calgary, Alberta-based WestJet is shifting from its roots as a low-cost rival to bigger Air Canada ACb.TO.

Saretsky would not forecast how much additional revenue the seating will produce, but said it could be similar to gains at U.S. carrier JetBlue Airway (JBLU.O).

"If you look at the premium economy model in the United States, specifically JetBlue ... they talk about a $150 million bump. That gives you some sense of the size of the opportunity we see," Saretsky said.

WestJet said this summer that it will offer 24 premium economy seats on each of its 100 planes early next year, a service that will include priority boarding and refundable tickets.

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Tim Dobbyn)

FILED UNDER:

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Hope for SpiceJet

Hope for SpiceJet

Former SpiceJet owner leading rescue plan: reports.  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil rallies above $60, heads for 4th weekly decline on glut.  Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Google aiming to go straight into car with next Android – sources.  Full Article 

Chinese Economy

Chinese Economy

China revises up size of 2013 economy, sees no effect on 2014 growth.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage