If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll know that WestJet has been in the midst of launching a Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) and will begin selling tickets in early 2018.
We are unsure as to which routes will be serviced or what planes they will fly but we now know the name of the carrier.
WestJet’s new ULCC will be called “Swoop” and it “denotes exactly what we plan to do,” according to Bob Cummings, WestJet’s Executive Vice-President of Strategy. Cummings adds that the name Swoop is “a powerful verb that demonstrates we plan to swoop in to the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel.”
What Is A ULCC?
Simply put, a ULCC is a cheap way to travel. Rather than have all the things you would expect on a flight to be included in the ticket price, with a ULCC, you purchase the seat and everything extra costs extra. Think of it as an “a-la-carte” menu. Your price includes the main course but the starter, drinks, dessert, that’s all extra.
I have flown some ULCCs before in Europe and Asia and they are bare bones s don’t expect to have free snacks on board or free checked bags. I even remember having to pay an upcharge to reserve with a credit card.
Now I’m not saying that this is a bad way to travel. It’s just different. If you are the type that brings your own snacks on board anyways, now you can save a few bucks. Just remember, many of the things you expect to have for free with a traditional ticket will cost money with a ULCC.
This model tends to be much more well suited for personal travel rather than business travel, which typically means that the destinations served by these airline tend to be much more fun!
It would also not surprise me to see Swoop fly into secondary airports to save money, with those savings passed onto the customer in the form of cheap airfare. Flying into secondary airports is great for airlines because they attract lower landing fees and often makes the airline the “big fish in a small pond”. The trade-off to that is that the airport may not be as well connected to the city as the primary airport.
Below is Swoop’s video explaining the concept:
What We Know
To be honest, we don’t know a lot as of yet but what we do know is that the headquarters of Swoop will be in Calgary, alongside her parent company, WestJet. The exact office location has not been determined as of yet but I can tell you that I have personally received many job alerts from WestJet in the past month or so, which seems to indicate they are rapidly hiring to supplement this new phase of expansion.
What we might also be able to assume if we put 2 and 2 together is that WestJet will be using some of their newly leased 787s to fly with Swoop. My assumption is that overseas or long haul recreational routes might see 787 service due to their excellent economics and passenger demographics.
For example, a Calgary to Paris (~4,600 miles) route during the summer might be an excellent vacation routing that cannot be serviced by their current aircraft, the 737 or the 767 either due to range limitations or economics, but could easily be flown with the 787. Additionally, the Calgary to Paris route is almost certainly going to be largely recreational traffic rather than business travel, which means that the passengers are much more price sensitive.
Sounds like a perfect solution for a ULCC no?
I for one am excited to see if the ULCC model can work in Canada. I am hopeful that it can because ultimately, if it does, we will have more competition, which will drive down costs. I have always found that Canadian revenue pricing to be out of whack with the rest of the world. I mean a $600 return flight from Calgary to Vancouver just shouldn’t happen.
Again, we don’t know Swoop’s strategy in terms of what markets and routes they will service but I am hopeful that this is a TSN turning point for the airline industry in Canada.
Get More Information
If you are interested in staying up to date with Swoop and it’s new developments, you can go to their newly launched website at www.flyswoop.com and sign up for their newsletter.