WestJet's Swoop will take off in June with low-cost flights between 5 cities

WestJet announced the schedule for its new “ultra-low-cost” airline Swoop on Thursday, which will include flights between five Canadian cities.
Swoop, the ultra-low cost carrier launched by WestJet, announced its first flights will take off in June. (WestJet)

WestJet announced the schedule for its new "ultra-low-cost" airline Swoop on Thursday, which will include 24 flights a week from Hamilton.

The new flights will take off in June, travelling six times a week between Abbotsford, B.C., and Hamilton, Hamilton and Halifax, Hamilton and Edmonton and Hamilton and Winnipeg.

There will also be flights between Abbotsford and Edmonton, the company said in a news release.

Fees for everything beyond your seat

The flights will be on Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Customers will pay their fare for a seat and can bring on one personal item. Then, they can choose to pay more to check bags, watch movies, use Wi-Fi, have more legroom and buy snacks and drinks on-board.

In a conference call in October, WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said he expected the ancillary fees for extras will be about twice as much as what customers pay on WestJet flights.

When it does start, Swoop will join other low-cost carriers in the Canadian market, including existing carriers Enerjet and Flair Air (formerly NewLeaf) and Jetlines, which aims to launch next year.

Passenger numbers at the Hamilton airport were up 80 per cent in 2017, according to numbers released last week.

The airport says that passenger traffic at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport jumped to 599,146 people in 2017, compared to 333,368 in 2016.

Swoop uses own website and check-in counters

Modelled after the relationship between Australia's Qantas Airways and Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd., Swoop will fly mostly to different destinations than WestJet, but may also supplement the larger airline on major city routes, Saretsky added.

He said Swoop will operate as an independent airline with its own reservation system, operator's certificate and airport check-in counters staffed by its own employees.

"We have been very resolute in wanting to build this at the absolute lowest (cost), so there will not even be connectivity between Swoop and WestJet," he told analysts.

With files from The Canadian Press, CBC Calgary


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