A well-financed bid by one of the founders of WestJet could upset the increasingly crowded budget airline market in Canada in 2019. Enerjet, a Calgary charter that has traditionally served the oil patch market, will relaunch as a low-cost-carrier early in the New Year but with some experienced investment heavyweights backing it. Prominent Toronto Equity firm TorQuest Partners, Claridge Inc. (which manages the Bronfman family fortune) and Stephenson Management (a ScotiaBank investment manager) have joined Tim Morgan, a senior vice president of WestJet in its formative years. But it’s the U.S. partner in the venture that has made the aviation and investment worlds take notice.
Indigo Partners LLC, which has a controlling interest in U.S. budget carrier Frontier Airlines and Chile’s JetSmart, in addition to stakes in Mexico’s Volaris, Wizz Air in Europe and WOW Air in Iceland is part of the Enerjet consortium. That likely means Enerjet will fly new Airbus A320neo or 321neo aircraft since Indigo Partners ordered 430 of them at last year’s Dubai Airshow. This kind of launch would contrast with the recent history of low-cost airlines in Canada which are generally either spinoffs of mainline carriers or start-ups that begin with used aircraft and sparse schedules.