WestJet has announced the appointment of a new executive vice-president and chief operating officer (COO) Diederik Pen, who will join the airline’s executive leadership team in the early fall, following the completion of the immigration process. At that time, acting interim COO, Robert Antoniuk will take on a new role as chief safety, health and environment Officer.
Pen has more than 25 years of aviation-industry experience in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, and joins WestJet most recently from low cost carrier Wizz Air.
“Diederik has an established track record of leading safe, efficient and cost-effective operations through periods of growth, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the WestJet family,” said WestJet president and CEO, Ed Sims. “Diederik’s breadth of experience spans line management, commercial, operational and leadership roles in airports, for flag carriers and low-cost airlines, and we look forward to his expertise as we enter recovery and build for the future.”
“What most appealed to me about WestJet was a combination of the culture, ambition and vision for the airline, there is an obvious high level of care and respect for doing things the right way for both the people who operate the airline and the guests,” said Pen. “WestJet is in an exciting position to successfully compete in the rebuild of the aviation industry, and I look forward to being a part of that story.”
Antoniuk joined WestJet in April 2018 and took on the interim COO role in February 2021, as the airline conducted a global search for a permanent placement. The airline said that Antoniuk has demonstrated exemplary leadership, including a successful airports transformation initiative, and maintaining WestJet’s leading on-time performance among major North American carriers, as well as globally, in recent months.
“Robert’s leadership has been tremendous throughout the entire pandemic, as he led major transformational work for our airports structure, before stepping in to lead operations at a critical time,” said Sims. “WestJet has always held safety above all and maintained leading safety performance. The pandemic has stretched our views to bring the same rigor to hygiene, physical and mental wellbeing and other such areas of health and environment that extend to our people and our guests; Robert’s proven leadership capabilities will be an asset to this important work.”