With the launch of Swoop, WestJet's ultra-low-cost carrier, Canadian travellers can expect domestic flights to undergo a significant price drop amid growing competition between discount airlines.
Swoop is the country's second ultra-low-cost carrier and has promised to price fares at 30 to 40 per cent lower than national carriers. Over the next 12 months, it will be competing with Flair Airlines and the upcoming Canada Jetlines with offerings of discounted airfares and special deals for services like onboard drinks and checked baggage.
"From our perspective there's the opportunity to fill a gap, there's an opportunity to stimulate demand, there's an opportunity to welcome Canadians back from crossing the border," says Steven Greenway, Swoop's president. "We believe there's a significant market enough to be able to thrive."
According to Global News, Canada is the only G7 country without a true ultra-low-cost carrier, despite the model being successful in Europe, Australia and the United States. Lower labour costs, compressed airplane seating and increased demand from cost-conscious travellers will hopefully be enough to sustain the lower airfares.
Swoop's offerings include a variety of cheap one-way flights, including:
- $49 between Abbotsford, BC and Winnipeg, MB
- $129 between Hamilton, ON and Abbotsford, BC, and
- $99 . between Hamilton, ON and Halifax, NS
Carry-on luggage and checked bags will be charged at additonal fees of $26.25, and seat selections will also be an extra $5 to $15.
By the end of 2018, Greenway hopes to expand Swoop's travel routes to include international destinations like Orlando, FL and Palm Springs, CA.
"It is an educational process and I think people will adapt over time."