As corporate rah-rah announcements go, WestJet ticked all the boxes. On Monday morning, the large-scale boarding-pass mock-ups were on display as the brass from the airline, along with civic and provincial officials, slapped themselves on the back for a job well done.
There was a solid amount of Edmonton boosterism as servers passed out miniature breakfasts. The announcement of a new route being introduced at Edmonton International Airport is a big boost to Edmonton’s collective psyche. The announcement of eight new flights — and it doesn’t really matter where they go — is a windfall in the optimism department.
But there was a second part to WestJet’s announcement of eight new routes — to Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, London (Ont.), Moncton, Nanaimo, Penticton, Charlottetown and Ottawa — which was maybe more important than the unveiling of the flights themselves.
WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech repeatedly said that the eight new routes were just the start of the airline’s plan to invest and grow in Edmonton. Basically, this announcement was like the opening act, and that the bigger band is yet to take the stage. He referred to the eight new routes as “the start of our expansion plans in Edmonton.”
That’s right. Start. As in, this is not a one-and-done sort of announcement.
“We’re focusing on the future and building our investments here in Edmonton,” he said.
And there was more.
“This is how we start and, as we grow, hopefully this number will grow, significantly… this is the seed that has been planted here for a tree to grow. So, today’s announcement is just the beginning of our commitment to Edmonton.”