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Back in June, I wrote about how WestJet was shutting down its low-cost subsidiary, Swoop Airlines. October 28th the date was provided at the time and the integration into WestJet was completed on schedule. Swoop now ceases to exist.
CBC reported when this was announced that the decision to fold Swoop into WestJet came through pilot negotiations that garnered a streamlined operation and an agreement that would result in a 24% pay increase in the next four years. The airline launched five years ago to compete with Flair Airlines and other Canadian low-cost carriers. Its fleet of 16 Boeing 737-800s and 737 MAX 8s will be rebranded and repainted to operate WestJet routes. They formerly served North American and Caribbean destinations.
WestJet’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, said in a June news release:
The WestJet Group is confident in the outcome of this negotiated decision and the path forward to integrate Swoop into WestJet’s operations. This integration will enhance our ability to serve a broader spectrum of guests. Instead of only 16 aircraft serving the ultra-low-cost market, each aircraft, in our 180-strong fleet, will offer ultra-affordable travel options through to a premium inflight experience.”
As you might imagine, the union representing both groups was not happy with this low-cost subsidiary paying pilots less than the mainline airline. Negotiations for a new WestJet pilots’ contract almost caused a strike. During the discussion, WestJet management and the union agreed to shut down Swoop. The pilots formerly flying for the low-cost carrier will now see parity with WestJet’s pilots.
WestJet’s CEO, Alexis von Hoensbroech, added:
The WestJet Group is pleased to have reached an industry-leading agreement in negotiation with ALPA that recognizes the value and instrumental contributions of our current and future pilots. This agreement bolsters our ability to provide certainty and career opportunities across our organization for years to come while ensuring the competitive sustainability of the WestJet Group.”
Anthony’s Take: I never flew Swoop, but I do have my first WestJet flight coming up in December between Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). I’ll be comparing its Business Class offering head to head with Air Canada. Stay tuned. RIP Swoop Airlines. I think it’s a cool name for a carrier.
(Image Credits: WestJet.)
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