WestJet will shut down Swoop, ending budget airline offering

WATCH: Swoop soon to disappear as WestJet prepares to absorb the discount airline. As Sean O'Shea reports, the announcement follows the ratification of the second collective bargaining agreement between WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association.

Budget airline Swoop will shut down later this year and have its operations folded into WestJet, the company announced Friday.

The merger into WestJet’s operations is expected to be completed by Oct. 28, the Calgary-based airline said. Swoop will operate its existing network until then, and Swoop employees will move to WestJet once the merger is completed.

“The WestJet Group is confident in the outcome of this negotiated decision and the path forward to integrate Swoop into WestJet’s operations,” WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said in a news release.

“This integration will enhance our ability to serve a broader spectrum of guests. Instead of only 16 aircraft serving the ultra-low-cost market, each aircraft, in our 180-strong fleet, will offer ultra-affordable travel options through to a premium inflight experience.”

It’s not yet clear if WestJet will leave the markets and routes serviced by Swoop, or replace their offerings with WestJet flights.

In a statement to Global News, WestJet said it’s “committed to ongoing engagement with valued communities and stakeholders to ensure that the airline continues to provide critical and affordable air travel to communities across Canada.”

While the fate of Swoop’s existing routes is uncertain, low-cost competitor Flair Airlines suggested Friday it would “evaluate opportunities” help fill any gaps left behind.

“Swoop’s sole purpose was to quell competition. Flair exists to promote competition and make travel affordable for all Canadians,” Flair CEO Stephen Jones told Global News.

WestJet revealed the decision as it announced the second collective bargaining agreement between WestJet and the Air Line Pilots Association had been ratified.

The merger was negotiated in the collective agreement, WestJet said. The agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023, and will be in place until Dec. 31, 2026.

The two sides were on the brink of a potentially catastrophic strike last month but avoided one after reaching a deal at the 11th hour.

—With additional files by Global’s Sean Boynton and Brent Pushkarenko

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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