WestJet announces “Swoop”, Canada’s first ultra-low-cost carrier

Roshan Patel

Canadian low-cost airline Westjet announced an ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) offshoot, Swoop, Wednesday. The new airline will share facilities and headquarters in Calgary to allow for it to hire employees that work at Westjet.

The airlines name, Swoop, was titled with intention that it will “swoop into the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel”.

Suggesting in a video posted on its website, www.flyswoop.com, the times of air travel are changing, and is planning on offering fares 40% cheaper than other competitors to compensate for the demand of low cost travel.

However, just like all other low cost carriers, the ‘no frills’ business models also means there are separate costs for benefits such as checked baggage that would otherwise be free on standard legacy airlines. The company says it plans driving ancillary revenue by charging fees for everything from carry-on luggage and priority boarding to in-flight entertainment and extended leg-room seats, is not “off limits.”

Swoop will operate 737-800’s that will be packed with 189 seats. While the list of markets the airline is not yet released, there are plans to operate to certain secondary airports of larger cities in Canada.  The goal, said Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice-president responsible for the launch of the new ultra-low-cost carrier, is to “launch progressive partnerships with airports that will also repatriate some of the Canadians going across the border to access cheaper flights.” The 737 will feature a magenta logo along the fuselage as well as the tail of the aircraft.

Many new low cost carriers are also entering the Canadian market, most notably Flair Airlines, and are thinning the demand for low cost travelers. Cummings responded by saying “looking at the market characteristics, population, land mass and what a network would look like in Canada, we believe there’s really only room for one major ULCC in Canada going forward, and WestJet is best suited to be that ULCC.” Cummings confidence is strong however facing fierce competition by Westjet’s main competitor and Canadian giant, Air Canada, only time will tell if this new airline can survive.

The addition of Swoop comes within 48 hours of Air France launching a similar airline aimed towards the next generation, coined “Joon.” Read more about Joon here. 

All media from WestJet / Swoop. 

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