WestJet’s new ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) Swoop generated some media attention this week by giving away 2,000 seats and offering transit bus fares on others between low volume destinations. The tickets and the marketing message that accompanied them appeared to be aimed directly at Flair Air, the fledgling new carrier that is gathering strength in that market. In announcing fares as low as $7.50 between Abbotsford and Edmonton and Winnipeg and Hamilton, the company said it will begin flying June 20 and by July 25 will be flying 45 flights serving those four airports.
The not-so-subtle marketing message is that Swoop is “travel without the flair” in which customers pay for only the services they want beyond the seat and seatbelt. The news release also stressed the financial stability of the carrier and its relatively modern fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. “Canadians can book with us knowing that we have modern aircraft, strong financial backing and an experienced team that will get you there and back,” said Bob Cummings, the WestJet VP in charge of Swoop. Kelowna-based Flair Air is already flying and expects to have 12 737-500s, a generation older than Swoop’s planes, flying by spring of 2019 and is offering service to most major airports in addition to the four that Swoop will initially serve.