Swoop Adds Maxes
Canadian discounter Swoop is so confident that leisure travelers will come back stronger this summer than they have to date during the pandemic that it has unveiled a deal to expand its fleet by 60 percent.
“We believe [strong] demand is signaling that Canadians are ready to reconnect with family and friends, and we anticipate a very strong summer,” said Bert van der Stege, head of commercial and finance at Swoop. And this is true even with the Omicron variant-driven slowdown in January and February, which he said is quickly giving way to a March and April rebound ahead of the peak summer period.
To meet demand, Swoop will add six Boeing 737-8s to its fleet by summer — a 60 percent increase to its fleet of 10 737-800s. The aircraft are leased and will be delivered directly from Boeing, and do not come from parent WestJet’s existing Max orderbook, said van der Stege. He declined to name the lessor. All of Swoop’s current fleet has come from WestJet.
WestJet had firm orders for 27 737 Maxes at the end of January, Boeing’s orders and deliveries data show.
Asked about the decision to add Maxes versus more used 737NGs, van der Stege said that among all the options available to them the latest generation 737 is “an excellent aircraft for ULCCs.” He added that thanks to Swoop’s position in the WestJet family, it was benefitted from data from its parent’s experience operating the jet in its decision making.
The airline’s growth comes amid the rapid expansion of ultra low-cost carriers in Canada. The increasingly crowded sector includes Flair Airlines, which launched in 2020, as well as startups Jetlines and Lynx Air, which both hope to begin flights this year. In 2021, Flair was the largest of the set with a 5 percent share of seats in the Canadian domestic market compared to Swoop’s 3 percent share, Cirium data show.
“We believe with our investment announced today … we are well positioned to retain the market leadership in the ULCC segment,” said van der Stege. He did not comment directly on any of Swoop’s competitors.
Swoop does not plan to add more aircraft beyond the six new Maxes to its fleet in 2022. It will end the year with 16 737s.
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