President Sean Durfy speaks at conference in St. Johns
A WestJet plane takes off from the international airport in Calgary in this file photo. Photo by The Canadian Press
WestJet president and CEO Sean Durfy says his company is working to keep its costs low, despite high fuel prices and a potential economic slowdown.
"It's pretty evident that fuel prices are and will continue to escalate," Durfy says. "So that will continue to be a challenge."
He says there is a potential for an economic slowdown because of a mini-recession in the manufacturing sector in Eastern Canada.
Durfy called the change in oil prices in the beginning of the week 'amazing.'
New York crude prices rose over $16 a barrel Monday, in its biggest-ever daily rise.
Durfy said one of his business's secrets to success is keeping their costs low. WestJet has taken the fuel surcharge off of their ticket price.
"It's all about cost for us. We have the lowest cost structure in Canada. We're probably 35 per cent less costly than our nearest competitor, so we really understand that side of the business and we want to make sure we keep our cost down," Durfy says.
But more than keeping the price low, Durfy says his airline has five secrets to their success.
"It's all based around caring about the guest, caring about the people, caring about one another as an organization, and I don't think many organizations do it very well, so that's what the secret is based on," he said.
"We also provide a great service. People are going to continue to fly, they have to, and now what they're going to have to do is probably spend more time choosing who they want to fly with.
"We bet that most people want to fly with a value airline that actually cares about their guests," he says.
Durfy spoke at the Treasury Management Association of Canada's 26th annual conference in St. John's Tuesday morning.