Steven Greenway, who was given the mission of building a low-cost rearguard for Canada’s Westjet, is leaving Swoop, the airline he helped launch two years ago.
“Being [the president of Swoop] has been an honour and privilege these past years,” Greenway wrote in a post to his Linkedin profile, “however I’ve longed to invest in those I love, revitalize, rediscover the world’s magic and continue to dream large!”
Swoop was Greenway’s sixth airline, though the first time the Australian native has worked in Canada.
Charles Duncan, who currently heads up Westjet’s cargo division, will add Swoop President to his functions. Duncan held previous stints as President of Westjet Encore, the airline’s regional arm, and before that, with Continental and United Airlines.
“I am thrilled to be joining the team at Swoop,” said Duncan, who remains an Executive Vice-President at WestJet. “In spite of the current challenges in the market, we remain committed to the ultra-low-cost carrier model and believe it will be an important element of our future success.”
Duncan will report to Westjet President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Sims, who said he would miss Greenway’s “no nonsense” attitude.
“Charles has been a valued member of the Executive team and his airline experience at the helm of WestJet Encore will be an asset to Swoop,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “Charles takes on the role at a crucial time and we look forward to his guidance, energy and expertise as the WestJet Group weathers this COVID-19 crisis and then as we look to build off the success that Swoop has already achieved.”
Swoop was created as a backstop for Westjet as the Calgary-based airline moved upscale and international in a bid to win revenues from the much larger Air Canada.
Swoop has been fighting a pitched battle against rival ULCC Flair. It has built a niche for itself focusing on lower-cost alternatives to Canada’s largest airports. Instead of serving Vancouver, it serves Abbotsford, British Columbia, one hour to the east. Instead of serving Toronto, Swoop flies to Hamilton, Ontario.
In its two years of operation, Swoop has grown to a fleet of 10 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, with its largest base in Edmonton, as Westjet transferred services to its no-frills subsidiary. As Swoop expanded, the airline helped propel London, Ontario to a major boost in passengers in 2019.
The airline planned to add service to Victoria and Kamloops, B.C. this summer, along with San Diego, Saint John’s, Charlottetown, and Moncton, New Brunswick.
That was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the airline is down to a single route linking four cities a few days a week.
“We can be incredibly proud of making the ULCC model work and thrive in Canada – despite significant headwinds,” wrote Greenway.
Swoop referred questions about Greenway’s departure to parent company Westjet. Greenway, who will leave Westjet in July, could not be reached for comment.