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Ex-Qantas Executive takes up role at WestJet

written by Chris Frame | February 12, 2020

Canada’s WestJet has confirmed the appointment of long-term aviation executive Billy Nolen, who has taken the role of Vice-President Safety, Security and Quality at the Calgary based airline.

WestJet Boeing 787 (Source: Rob Finlayson)

Nolen brings over 30 years experience in corporate safety, flight operations and regulatory affairs to WestJet.

He most recently held the role of Executive Manager, Group Safety and Health at Qantas – widely regarded as one of the world’s safest airlines.

Prior to joining Qantas, Nolen held a Senior Vice President role at Airlines for America, an advocacy organisation that supports America’s commercial aviation sector.

An earlier career at American Airlines saw Nolen take on a variety of roles.


Commencing as an airline pilot in 1989, he later became a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 Check Airman. Following that role he took on various airline safety management positions.

His final role at American was Senior Vice President Safety, Security and Operations.

Now based in Canada, Nolen will oversee the strategic direction of the quality, security and safety across the WestJet group.

“WestJet clearly shares my passion for safety as it’s recognised to be one of the safest airlines,” said Billy Nolen in a prepared statement.

“I look forward to being part of the WestJet team and to further strengthening its safety culture across its growing global network.”

Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO echoed Nolen’s sentiments, adding: “Billy is a results-driven safety leader with an impressive record of accomplishments in aviation.

“As WestJet continues our evolution to a network carrier with broader global reach, Billy’s experience in upholding the safety culture of some of world’s safest airlines will greatly benefit our continued commitment to safety above all. We are excited to have Billy join our team.”

The announcement of Nolen’s appointment comes on the same day as WestJet released its new (northern hemisphere) summer schedule.

Highlights include the addition of more than 90 flights, linking the airline’s hub of Calgary to regional destinations. Many of the new flights utilise Bombardier Dash-8 Q400s, which are flown by WestJet’s regional subsidiary WestJet Encore

“WestJet is focused on investing in Alberta to build and strengthen our Calgary hub,” Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer, said of the new routes.

“As WestJet continues on its strategic path of becoming a global network airline, we are pleased to offer our guests the ability to conveniently connect for business or pleasure across Canada, Europe and beyond this summer.”

Additionally, the airline will establish a new international flight linking Calgary and Boston from 14 May, while Calgary to Charlottetown flights are expected to commence on 25 June.

This is good news for Australian flyers, as a partnership exists between Qantas and Westjet meaning local travellers can earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points on WestJet services.

WestJet says that the increase in flights highlights the popularity of air services between its Calgary hub and other Canadian destinations. The move is also good news for Calgary International Airport.

“WestJet continues to invest in YYC Calgary International Airport as its home base and expansion focus,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority.

“It is Calgary’s largest carrier and we are committed to facilitating their growth. These additional flights will serve more guests bound for more destinations, delivering recreational and business opportunities for our region.”

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Comments (2)

  • Mike


    This article about Westjet mentioned a couple of links with Qantas. I’m surprised it didn’t include the fact that Westjet also operates at least four former Qantas aircraft. The Canadian carrier’s B767-300 fleet are all ex Qantas planes. Now equipped with winglets its great they’re still flying!

  • Brian


    The B 767-300 fleet was used extensively by Westjet for their flights to the UK from Canada, prior to the utilization of the B 787 commencing in 2019. The 767 was fraught with technical and mechanical problems which resulted in scores of cancellations and/or delays which rightly so created a somewhat negative perception of their first foray into transatlantic flights. The 787 is a great aircraft and certainly has brought back a more positive impression of Westjet’s flights to Europe.

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