Management Turnover as Change Agent

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canada's WestJet CEO Resigns

Westjet WJA (TSX), Canada’s second largest airline and for some time considered its most successful, Monday announced the suddSean Durfyen resignation of its CEO Sean Durfy. Durfy took over the company’s CEO position back in 2007. He has been with the airline since 2004 when he joined to head the airline’s marketing, sales and airport operations. While Durfy has been instrumental in much of the low cost airlines success over the last few years, he has also been in charge of its efforts to grow which have seen a number of bumps in the road lately. The low cost airline has been experiencing ongoing implementation problems with its new reservatioGregg Saretskyns systems and has found itself straining under its continuing efforts to grow.

Durfy’s resignation announcement was coupled with the airline’s appointment of Gregg Saretsky as Durfy’s successor. Saretsky, the company’s current executive vice president of operations and vice president of WestJet Vacations, will take over as of April 1. Saretsky has only been with the firm since June 2009. He came to WestJet from Alaska Airlines where he worked for a decade. Prior to Alaska Airlines, Saretsky worked for the defunct Canadian Airlines.

Durfy announced his resignation yesterday. In the press release he was quoted,

“This was a very difficult decision for me; however, after careful consideration, I have decided that this is best for me and my family,” … “Those things I set out to accomplish at WestJet have now been achieved and I believe this is an appropriate time to allow others to carry the torch while I spend more time with my young family.”

After an agreed upon transition period up to September 1, Durfy will leave the firm and resign from the board of directors.

One Year Stock Performance of WestJetDespite many of the growing pains the airline has experienced lately, overall Durfy appears to have done a good job in managing the company. It will be very interesting to see what type of stamp Saretsky will put on the firm.

Stay tuned.

For more:

Financial Post

CTV News

The Vancouver Sun

I Aviation CA (update March 17)

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