Small airports could be affected by WestJet possibly integrating Swoop

Part of WestJet's tentative agreement with the pilot's union may include a promise to wind down and absorb Swoop airlines. That has small airports relying on the airline watching the development closely. David Zura explains. 

By David Zura

A tentative deal between WestJet and the union representing its pilots likely includes a provision to fully integrate Swoop into WestJet by October of 2024, eliminating the airline.
WestJet has declined to comment, citing the fact the agreement is tentative and hasn’t been ratified.
However, the development could be a big deal to the 13 Canadian airports that welcome the airline, most of them smaller operations welcoming just a handful of carriers.
“Generally, in the short term, there’s not a whole lot of change, but what happens is the parent airline that they’re getting merged into starts looking at the profitability of the routes. And over time what you’ll see is eventually those smaller routes and the less profitable routes start to get eliminated,” explained Wayne Smith, a hospitality professor at Toronto Metropolitan University.
Smith said the loss of Swoop could represent a five-to-10-year setback for some of these smaller airports.
In a written reply to CityNews, Hamilton International Airport said they’re aware of and continue to monitor the results of the tentative agreement between the WestJet Group and the ALPA.
“Hamilton International is an economic engine and has a very diversified portfolio of cargo and passenger operations,” continued the statement.
On the flipside, Smith tells CityNews this development might become a big advantage to medium-sized airports with higher traffic.
“If they see a growth market potential, they can bring a bigger plane or they could bring more frequent service. So, if you have growth potential and you’re having population growth in your area and you’re a strong secondary airport you can do really, really well.”
He explained airlines could decide to send more flights and invest in that market.
“There’s an opportunity here for Swoop, instead of having Swoop simply fall off the radar, leaving a void, WestJet may say, ‘We’re just going to send the big planes.'”
Halifax International Airport could also be affected by the departure of Swoop.
“Since 2018, we have welcomed several new airlines, including ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) like Swoop, Flair, and Lynx … Although we advocate for more air service offerings, we understand that the pandemic has affected all our partners, including the airlines, and resource-related challenges persist,” they told CityNews.
Swoop has been operating in Canada since 2018 and currently operates out of 32 destinations.

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