Nfld. & Labrador

Swoop airline adds daily flights between St. John's, Hamilton

The low-cost airline Swoop, operated by WestJet, has added new flights to three Atlantic Canadian airports and Hamilton starting this summer.

New routes will operate from June 22 to Oct. 23, 2020

Swoop Airlines has added direct flights between Hamilton and St. John's, Moncton and Charlottetown. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

The low-cost airline Swoop, operated by WestJet, has added new flights to three Atlantic Canadian airports from Hamilton, starting this summer.

Swoop will have daily flights to St. John's International, as well as flights to Moncton four days a week, and Charlottetown three days a week.

The announcement Thursday is part of what Swoop called its expansion into eastern Canada, and includes the addition of a 10th aircraft to its fleet.

"We are able to stimulate new traffic, new business and hopefully that will be successful," said Swoop president and CEO Steven Greenway.

"Swoop's focus is on secondary airports like Hamilton's. They are cheap to operate from, they're efficient, they're really easy and that's how we are able to keep our fares low."

The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport is quicker for passengers to navigate, says Swoop CEO Steven Greenway. (Hamilton Airport YHM/Twitter)

Greenway said there is another advantage to flying into the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, instead of Pearson International.

"So you can actually walk off our plane and be in the car park in two or three minutes. You won't be able to do that in Toronto," he told CBC Radio's On The Go.

Swoop started operation in and out of Hamilton in 2018.

Passengers 'pleasantly surprised': CEO

Greenway said the company gets strong feedback from passengers, who know that with an ultra-low cost carrier, they are getting "just the seat and the seat only" for the deal.

"They get a low price point and they're pleasantly surprised when they get on board that the plane is new, it's comfortable and the crew is great. So you get all the basics right at a low price point, and you've really got a winner," Greenway said.

Swoop announced new flights to three Atlantic Canadian airports, including St. John's International, from Hamilton, starting in the summer. (CBC)

The new Atlantic Canada routes will run from June 22 to Oct. 23, 2020, but that could be extended.

"We want St. John's to be year-round. The summer is certainly our test period, to see how that goes, and then we'll start looking at our winter schedule," Greenway said.

Competition is good

John Gradek, program co-ordinator at McGill University for the Global Aviation Leadership program, told CBC News that if Swoop does a good job in Atlantic Canada and customers are satisfied with the operation, more airlines are likely to move in creating more options for travellers. 

"It may not be this summer. But, hopefully, keep your fingers crossed. If Maritimers basically jump on this product, and love this product and fly, you'll see a lot more presence of carriers in eastern Canada than you have in the past," he said.

Gradek said Air Canada will also get competitive in the Atlantic provinces due to Swoop's announcement. 

He predicts that within the next 24 to 36 hours Air Canada will offer a "super sale" on flights from Toronto to Moncton, Charlottetown and St. John's. 

"You'll see the Air Canada fare come down. Not necessarily to the level that Swoop has, but the odds are that Air Canada will not stay and watch the market disappear or move over to Swoop without having a competitive pricing response," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go and Meg Roberts

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