Evidence of the latest threat to the Canadian retail travel sector is probably right in your own wallet. It’s your Costco membership card.
CALGARY — Following weeks of speculation, Swoop has confirmed that it will become Canada’s first ultra low-cost airline to fly to the U.S. when it launches service this fall to cities in Florida, Nevada and Arizona.
As part of its 2018/19 winter schedule, the ULCC will offer flights from Edmonton, Hamilton and Abbotsford to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa Bay.
The complete schedule is as follows:
|Service Between||Service starts||Service Offered||Frequency|
|Edmonton and Las Vegas||October 11, 2018||Daily||11x weekly|
|Edmonton and Mesa||October 27, 2018||Wed, Sat||2x weekly|
|Hamilton and Las Vegas||October 26, 2018||Mon, Thu, Fri, Sun||4x weekly|
|Hamilton and Fort Lauderdale||October 26, 2018||Fri, Sat||2x weekly|
|Hamilton and Orlando||October 17, 2018||Tue, Wed, Sat||3x weekly|
|Hamilton and Tampa Bay||October 20, 2018||Wed, Thu, Sat||3x weekly|
|Abbotsford and Las Vegas||October 11, 2018||Mon, Thu, Sun||3x weekly|
Flights are available for booking from Oct. 11, 2018 to April 27, 2019. Everyday one-way fares start at $149 including taxes and fees through April, however it will offer 4,100 seats at low promotional fares of $99 and $119 for travel booked online between Aug. 2-7, for travel between Oct. 13, 2018 to Feb. 13, 2019.
The U.S. expansion will see Swoop operate to a mix of secondary airports – Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport – and highly popular ones like McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas where there are no alternatives. Service will be launched to these U.S. gateways as Swoop receives delivery of its fifth and sixth airplane, said Swoop president Steven Greenway.
“Our immediate success in Canada shows us travellers want more Swoop,” said Steven Greenway, President of Swoop. “Canadians have been waiting for ultra-low-cost fares into the U.S. for years and we are proud to be the airline to make it happen. There has been a lot of interest in our plans for the remaining three aircraft we receive this year and revealing this schedule today is a proud moment for the whole Swoop team.”
Swoop has been vocal about its intention to repatriate the estimated 5 million Canadians that drive across the border each year to take ULCC flights in the U.S., and this winter schedule is positioned to attract both cross-border travellers and price-sensitive sun-seekers.
The ULCC currently receives about $36 per passenger, twice the level at affiliate airline WestJet. But more of these non-fare revenues are expected to be generated as others services are added like car rental, hotel, third-party travel insurance and beefed up food and drink offerings.
“As we mature, as we grow the airline, that’s really where we start seeing some differences,” Greenway added, declining to forecast potential per passenger ancillary revenues.
WestJet’s goal is to use Swoop’s low fares to stimulate demand from people who don’t typically fly and help to repatriate some of the five million Canadian travellers who cross the border to depart from U.S. airports.
“I think we can get a reasonable chunk both out of Abbotsford and Hamilton,” he said.
The news comes on the heels of WestJet’s reported loss of $20.8 million in the second quarter, its first quarterly loss in 13 years. The airline cited a labour dispute with its pilots, higher fuel prices and increased competition as possible factors, and also warned passengers of higher fares, likely to come this fall.
With file from The Canadian Press