Canadian Low Cost Carrier Swoop To Launch San Diego Service

Swoop announced yesterday (02/07/19) that it had added two more routes to its already burgeoning winter schedule. The new routes are from Edmonton, Alberta and Abbotsford, B.C. to San Diego in the United States.

Swoop B737 on ground at night
San Diego route is added to Swoop’s winter schedule. Photo: Swoop

A week after its publishing a full schedule of winter services Canadian LCC Swoop gave notice of two additional routes to San Diego to operate from the beginning of October this year. The services to San Diego from Edmonton and Abbotsford will run every Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Swoop’s winter schedule already includes 28 routes including an inaugural service from Edmonton to Los Cabos, Mexico. Of the new route Swoop’s communications boss Karen McIsaac says,

San Diego is an excellent addition to our winter line-up with a schedule that encourages weekend excursions by air. With some of the best beaches in California and plenty of attractions, San Diego is another example of how Swoop is bringing desirable locations at an affordable price within reach of Canadians.”

Good for business

The addendum suggests Swoop’s unadulterated ULCC model is working well. But it’s not only the carrier that is benefiting from a surge in demand. Swoop’s growing network of destinations is a much-needed shot in the arm for the Edmonton Metro region, from where it operates the majority of flights. In a press release, CEO of Edmonton airport Tom Ruth said of the carrier,

Popular destinations and low fares are creating exceptional travel options while supporting tourism and business growth in our region. Swoop’s growing list of Canadian and US routes from EIA is an investment in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.”

Swoop B737 on ground
Swoop brings much-needed tourism and revenue to Edmonton region. Photo: Swoop

What is Swoop?

Established in June 2018, Swoop is a Canadian fringe carrier operated as a subsidiary of the homeland’s WestJet Group. It offers only non-stop flights without connections on routes throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

In August of 2018 Swoop became Canada’s first ULCC to enter the US market. The airline’s main hub is John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Ontario. Its secondary hub is Edmonton.

Most of the flights on Swoop’s manifest are scheduled throughout the year. Some, such as routes to Tampa Bay, Florida and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, are seasonal. Thanks to an exponential rise in passenger numbers (Swoop’s 1 millionth passenger flew in May, 2019) the Edmonton hub has seen a boost in weekly flights and is set for further redevelopment.

Insiders believe the airline’s primary focus was (and still is) on the catchment of an estimated five million Canadians who cross the US border each year to catch flights from New York (east) and Washington (west) states.

Swoop B737 interior
WestJet configures Swoop for 189 passengers to maximize profit. Photo: Swoop

Swoop’s fleet

At its launch, Swoop had just two B737-800s. The carrier intended to bolster this number with an additional four of the type by the end of 2018. In August of the same year Swoop received its fourth 737.

WestJet’s business model includes the configuration of its Swoop aircraft to seat 189 passengers. The Group’s intention at the “cheap” end of the market is to maximize operating profit to enable it to meet the demands of higher labor costs, due to a 2017 staff unionization.

Swoop’s cost base is around 40% lower than that of Air Canada.

Today Swoop operates a fleet made up entirely of B737-800s. The carrier expects its armada to number 10 by the end of the year.

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