Air Canada, WestJet, and Conspiracy Theories

The bizarre business espionage allegations by Air Canada about WestJet, a discount airline, are the subject of my column today in the National Post. I suggest, not entirely mischievously, that there is something much stranger going on here than mere busines sleuthing by WestJet:

There is a new twist in the Air Canada tale. While the bankrupt airline is still looking for a replacement guide out of bankruptcy, Air Canada is also taking its battle with discount airline WestJet to Ontario court – and the circumstances cry conspiracy.


Air Canada alleges that the personal identification number of a former employee, who is now working at WestJet, was used to access Air Canada’s systems 243,630 times between May 15, 2003, and March 19, 2004.  Air Canada argues in court documents that information available on that system allowed WestJet to target Air Canada’s most profitable routes and times.


It is just the latest development in a nasty rivalry.


WestJet, a Calgary-based discount airline, has been knocking the stuffing out of Air Canada, via a Southwest-style cost advantage. Air Canada isn’t even close to being price competitive, so when it tries to fight back it just loses more money than usual– ergo, in part, the company’s entry into bankruptcy.