WestJet to wind down budget airline Swoop, integrate into main operation

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Published June 9, 2023 at 3:00 pm

A passenger boards a WestJet Encore Bombardier Q400 twin-engined turboprop aircraft in Kamloops, Saturday, June 3, 2023. WestJet and Swoop pilots ratified their collective agreement after a bargaining process that saw the threat of a strike snarl many Canadians' long weekend plans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

WestJet says it will wind down its Swoop brand by late October as it integrates the budget carrier’s operations into its main banner.

The move comes after the ratification of a new collective agreement that brings pilots of both carriers onto a level pay scale.

In a phone interview from its Calgary headquarters, WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said keeping Swoop separate would make little sense financially given the higher labour costs, but said each WestJet flight will offer a portion of ultra-low-cost tickets.

Pilots of WestJet and Swoop secured a 24 per cent hour pay bump over four years under a deal agreed on tentatively last month that narrowly averted a strike.

Bargaining came down to the wire, with WestJet cancelling more than 230 flights in preparation for job action before a deal was reached hours ahead of the strike deadline on May 19.

Competition for budget airfares has grown in recent years, particularly in Western Canada, as upstarts Flair Airlines and Lynx Air challenged Swoop for market share on key routes.

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