Ultra low-cost carrier Swoop is stimulating a new market rather than cannibalising that of its parent WestJet, according to the airline’s chief executive Steven Greenway.
Speaking to delegates at Routes Americas 2019 via a video link, he said that Swoop is catering for a segment not served by either WestJet or Air Canada.
“WestJet isn’t forgetting its low-cost roots - you can still get a huge amount of fares for below C$100 - but it now provides a more premium service and is targeting the corporate market,” he said. “That means they are leaving the lower end of the market.
“But equally, there’s a whole market out there that doesn’t even fly. Despite being in one of the richest countries in the world, I’m constantly hearing from customers that it’s the first time they’ve been on a plane.
“Because we’re focusing on secondary cities, we know there are a huge amount of Canadians that are going south of the border. Buffalo carried two million Canadian passengers last year alone. We want to repatriate those Canadians.”
Swoop launched its inaugural flight from Hamilton to Abbotsford in July 2018 and now operates from seven airports in Canada. Its network also extends to the US and Mexico.
Greenway said Swoop has launched 19 routes in the past six months and so the focus for the rest of the year will be to “steady the ship”.
He added that the carrier’s network complements that of WestJet: “We’re really focused on getting the secondary cities working.
“A good example of that is in southern Ontario. Obviously WestJet has a significant presence in Toronto Pearson and we’re perfectly happy with letting them have that.
“Instead we’re serving Hamilton and London. That means for the WestJet Group, it’s a really complementary strategy of providing excellent service through one primary and two secondary airports.
“We’re going into airports that WestJet doesn’t serve or are underserved.”
Swoop's summer 2019 network includes three new destinations of London, ON, Kelowna, BC and Oakland, CA, plus two new transborder markets and an extension of two international routes.
The new domestic markets include service between London and Halifax six times per week and daily service from London to/from Abbotsford and Edmonton. Service between Kelowna and Winnipeg will be offered three times a week. The schedule also sees the return of the seasonal route between Abbotsford and Winnipeg four times per week.
Edmonton will enjoy increased transborder capacity with thrice-weekly flights to/from Oakland and a weekly flight to/from Orlando.
Internationally, Swoop will continue its Hamilton service to Montego Bay and Cancun, with a weekly return flight throughout the summer.