The WestJet Group on Monday (Oct. 30) issued a statement on the integration of its ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) Swoop into WestJet’s 737 operations, calling it a “successful” transition.
Swoop, which entered the ULCC market in 2018, operated its last flight on Saturday (Oct. 28), as PAX reported over the weekend.
The dissolution of the carrier was first reported by PAX in May as pilot negotiations resulted in the decision to integrate the magenta-coloured brand into WestJet’s teal-toned mainline.
With the integration now complete, WestJet says it will “leverage the successes and learnings from five years of operating Canada’s first ULCC across its growing airline to enhance its ability to serve a broader spectrum of guests.”
Instead of serving the ultra-low-cost market on just 16 aircraft, the airline’s 180-strong fleet will transition to offer “ultra-affordable travel options” through to a premium inflight experience on each of its aircraft, the airline said.
“As the first ULCC to enter the Canadian market, in 2018 Swoop pioneered the no-frills product in Canada and was best-in-class in generating ancillary revenues,” said Alexis von Hoensbroech, The WestJet Group’s CEO, in a statement on Monday.
“By keeping costs low, Swoop was able to offer the most competitive fares and appeal to Canadian travellers of all demographics. As we conclude this integration, we will learn from Swoop’s successes to best serve our guests with diversified product offerings that meet a variety of needs.”
von Hoensbroech went on to thank Swoop employees on “a job well done.”
“Thank you for your hard work, commitment and passion that made Swoop possible,” he said.
Airline to densify cabins
With the largest narrow-body order book in the country, WestJet is now set to utilize Swoop's ultra-low cost product, offering low fares and a range of affordable vacation packages across its narrow body fleet.
WestJet's plan includes densifying the rear section of its 737 aircraft, while retaining a premium cabin up front, enabling them to provide a range of in-flight offerings, from ultra-low-cost to premium, on every plane in its fleet.
As previously reported, Sunwing Airlines, too, will be integrated into WestJet’s mainline by October 2024. (Sunwing Vacations, the tour operator, will not be impacted).
The two integrations will result in a reconfiguration of Sunwing and Swoop aircraft, von Hoensbroech explained last week – a move that will densify cabins to distribute costs across more seats.
As PAX first reported, WestJet’s 737-800s and MAX 8s, including legacy WestJet, Sunwing and Swoop planes, will be reworked to feature 180 seats – up six seats from the current configuration – including 12 Premium seats.
WestJet's Max 10s – there are 70 on order for the next five years – will also add 13 seats, totalling 212.
“We will not segment our guests by airline [like through Swoop], but segment our guests within the aircraft,” von Hoensbroech said at a speaking engagement at the Toronto Region Board of Trade last week. “For a market like Canada, that makes most sense.”
At that same event, von Hoensbroech underscored WestJet’s commitment to being a low-cost airline.
“We want to be affordable,” he said, noting how WestJet, currently, has more than 1.7 million seats for sale that are under $100. “We are targeting every Canadian, and not just the elites of this country.”