WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s new ultra-low-cost carrier plans to expand to southern locations in the U.S. and Mexico in the second half after it launches with Canada service in June.
WestJet is counting on its Swoop brand to fend off a new breed of bargain carriers such as Flair Airlines while the fledgling carrier attempts to take market share from leisure operators Air Transat and Sunwing Airlines.
“In June, when we have all of the regulatory approvals, we will announce southern flying into the U.S. and Mexico, potentially the Caribbean as well,” Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice president of strategy, said in an interview. “We will aggressively go after the cross-border opportunity, which is quite significant.”
Swoop on Thursday said it would begin service on June 20 from Hamilton, Ontario, to Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. By the end of July, it will add Edmonton, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, to its network. One-way fares initially will range from C$39 to C$99 ($32 to $81), including fees and taxes.
Gregg Saretsky, the chief executive officer of Calgary-based WestJet, has said he expects Swoop to be profitable from the start.
The unit’s first southbound flights likely will depart from Ontario and British Columbia, Cummings said, where the company sees a market of about 15 million people for ultra-low-cost travel. He said flights to Mexico and the U.S. may begin before November, though he declined to elaborate.
“Part of the strategy of Swoop is for it to be complementary to WestJet,” Cummings said. “It made sense for us to start our network as largely Hamilton-based, with some Abbotsford. Over time, we will evolve and deploy into other markets.” The operation mostly will focus on secondary airports, such as Hamilton, which is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Toronto.
Swoop plans to fly a fleet of 10 Boeing Co. 737-800 jets outfitted with 189 seats by September 2019.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.