Airline cancels expansion plans in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada
Swoop said Tuesday it would suspend expansion plans in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada as the Westjet subsidiary falls back on core routes in its summer schedule.
The airline released a pared-down summer 2020 schedule, showing 34 weekly flights between its key markets in Abbotsford, Edmonton, Hamilton, and Halifax. Though the number of flights is drastically lower than last summer, it is still 70% more than in the month of May.
The summer plan includes flights six times a week between Edmonton and Hamilton – the airline’s busiest route – and the return of non-stop flights between Abbotsford and Hamilton. It also includes the continuation of service between Hamilton and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“It is through the hard work and dedication of teams across Swoop that we remain committed to our mission of making air travel more affordable and accessible for Canadians,” said Bert van der Stege, Swoop’s Head of Commercial in a statement. “Our affordable airfare, along with our strict health and safety protocols, will help bring our travellers back to the skies along with the economic benefits that air transportation delivers for communities and businesses.”
Hamilton will be Swoop’s busiest base this summer, with 13 weekly departures, followed by Edmonton (10), Abbotsford (eight), and Halifax (three). The airline will also continue a policy adopted during the pandemic of allowing passengers from Edmonton to fly through to Halifax on a one-stop flight.
At the same time, Swoop has suspended ambitious expansion plans to Charlottetown, Moncton, St. John’s, Kamloops, and Victoria. It has also prolonged its suspension of service to London, Ontario, Winnipeg, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Swoop’s arrival in London last year helped passenger numbers jump 27% at a time when most airports were reporting no increase or even slight decreases.
Flights to the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean were also suspended through the summer.
Swoop’s decision to fall back on its core markets follows a similar move announced last week by arch-rival Flair. The Edmonton-based carrier will fly between Toronto and Vancouver four times a week with stops in Edmonton or Calgary, but also made the decision to reintroduce service to Winnipeg and Kelowna for the summer.
“We understand and share our travellers’ disappointment in this news,” said Swoop’s van der Stege. “Swoop is committed to working closely and collaboratively with our strategic airport partners to ensure Canadians have critical access to affordable air travel. We thank all our travellers, Swoopsters, valued airport partners and industry colleagues for their support during this time.”
Swoop said affected passengers would be contacted by email to be notified of their options. When it announced its pandemic cancellations, Flair said affected passengers would receive refunds.
“We anticipate and look forward to the return of @FlySwoop at LIA in October,” London International Airport tweeted Tuesday.
Canadian airports reported passenger numbers were down roughly 95% in April, as passengers stayed home during the pandemic.
A consensus is emerging in Canadian aviation it could take up to four years for aviation to recover to what it was last year. There are, however, a few signs of a nascent rebound.
Aviation analyst OAG reported Tuesday Air Canada’s capacity in June would be double what it was in May. Data compiled by Western Aviation News show Canada’s largest carrier plans almost 1,400 domestic departures per week by the end of June, up from 706 weekly departures within Canada in May. Overall, though, OAG said traffic in Canada was down 82% compared to last year.