Swoop-ing in to collect more fees: Canada’s newest ULCC has a name

Swoop enters the Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier market. (CNW Group/WestJet)

Looking for a new ULCC with a funny name? Head to Canada where Swoop is set to launch in Summer 2018 as the ultra low-cost arm of Calgary-based WestJet. The new airline will also be based in Calgary and has a bright pink livery and plenty of fees for passengers to enjoy as they book their travels.

“The name Swoop denotes exactly what we plan to do,” said Bob Cummings WestJet Executive Vice-President, Strategy and the executive member responsible for the launch of Swoop. “It’s a powerful verb that demonstrates we plan to swoop in to the Canadian market with a new business model that will provide lower fares and greater opportunity for more Canadians to travel.”

Beyond the livery and the new fees – carry-on bags, snacks, etc. – there really aren’t many details. No routes yet. Just the fact that the group will operate ten 737-800 aircraft previously planned to fly under the WestJet brand.

From a marketing perspective the announcement today makes plenty of sense, I suppose. People are talking again about a company that doesn’t really exist yet and has nothing to show for itself, save for a logo. That means when the next little thing comes out we can talk about it again and make sure it gets more publicity while probably not really dropping the total cost of travel for most passengers.

WestJet wants you to think Swoop will save you money.
WestJet wants you to think Swoop will save you money.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here thinking mostly about this awful early ’90s Wesley Snipes movie. And wondering if it is better or worse than flying on Swoop will be.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Check your facts. ULCC mean lower fares. By unbundling things that were (oddly) formerly bundled they remove things from the fare that you do not use.

    1. I’m spectacularly familiar with the unbundling phenomenon and how it works. The marketing line of “just pay for what you use” is great. In many cases, however, the average customer does use those “extras” and the fare drop is less than the associated fees.

      A $100 ticket that included a checked bag drops to $80 and the ULCC advertises a 20% reduction in fare. But it skips over the $30 checked bag fee that drives up the total cost of travel for that passenger. There will always be some who come out ahead but, on the average, I’m not particularly convinced that’s the case. There’s no way an airline is going to change its business model to reduce profit margins. That’s the company’s prerogative, of course. And as someone watching that occur I’ll take the opportunity to point out that it is happening.

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