This June, Swoop will celebrate three years since it launched operations. Like its Canadian counterparts, the global health crisis has taken its toll on the operations of the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC). However, as the company prepares for its three-year anniversary, it is looking to return all nine of its Boeing 737s to the skies. Swoop president Charles Duncan today told Simple Flying about how much his firm values the narrowbody type.
A trusted workhorse
The Boeing 737-800 is a trusted model for carriers across the globe. Even more so, it’s often a go-to aircraft for new ventures. The plane’s range, size, experience, and price make it an ideal solution for newcomers in the game, especially low-cost carriers (LCCs).
“I love the aircraft. The 737-800 is a proven workhorse. You’re familiar with its use with LCCs globally, but it’s not only LCCs, of course. It’s tried, it’s true, it’s tested. And for us, if I reflect on the fleet, our labor agreements allow Swoop to operate with 30 aircraft, and we have nine 737-800s right now. The sad part is, through most of COVID, or most of the past year, we’ve only effectively been flying one or two aircraft out of a fleet of nine. So, we’ve had some in storage, and you know, going through various methods,” Duncan told Simple Flying.
“We really do like the 737-800. We think it’s well suited for the routes that we are flying today and those that we’re anticipating for the future. Really, for us, our planning is around the fleet size. The 737-800s are plentiful, and they’re so reliable, and right now is a real buyers market in terms of aircraft availability and pricing.”
Ready for deployment
Even though the 737s are seeing a lack of action, this aspect will soon change. Duncan shares that as his company looks to the summer, it will be returning all nine of its aircraft into service. This move will be in response to the anticipation of a return in demand following vaccine rollouts. Nonetheless, the initial resurgence in activity will be focused on national services amid the ongoing global travel restrictions. Duncan feels that international operations will open up more during the winter.
Regardless of how active the network is, Swoop is just glad that there are signs of recovery ahead. It’s been a tough year for Canadian aviation as a whole due to the tough conditions in the market following the rise of the pandemic.
“We’ll get back to flying on nine units this summer, but with less than full utilization. To be a successful ULCC, you have to have high aircraft utilization, typically operating 14 hours a day in peak season even, even in excess of 14 hours a day,” Duncan added.
“This summer, we’re modeling somewhat less than 10 hours a day. But as we respond to passenger demand at will, we’ll certainly be looking to grow. It’s been such a tough 14 months now thinking about COVID, but it’s rewarding to finally be thinking about growth.”
As Swoop prepares to jump back on its growth path, it has its eyes on a fleet of 30 aircraft. Duncan expresses there is a chance to develop after such a long period of pent-up demand across Canada.
Ultimately, the airline is in a sweet spot with its ULCC business model. There will undoubtedly be several price-sensitive travelers looking to fly across the country to see loved ones. Moreover, with international travel remaining largely restricted, for now, holidaymakers will be setting their eyes on vacationing within Canada.
Subsequently, Swoop is expanding its summer schedule. Notably, with this move, it is bringing new routes and more ultra-low-fares to British Columbia. The summer services will allow for new operations to Victoria along with the return and addition of new routes from the scenic lake city of Kelowna. Therefore, the 737s shouldn’t have a problem hosting passengers as the year progresses.
Swoop also kicked off the start of its winter operations by starting operations from Toronto Pearson Airport. Flights to the likes of Montego Bay, Kelowna, Edmonton, and Halifax depart Canada’s busiest airport. Duncan highlights that while Swoop seeks to provide Canadians in large settlements such as the Greater Toronto Area with responsible and affordable travel options, it also is determined to cater to smaller communities across the vast land.
The right arsenal
The first 737-800 in the WestJet subsidiary’s fleet joined in May 2018, and the last one arrived in November 2019. All of these units used to be in the parent company’s facilities. There is already some positive progress for Swoop, as according to Planespotters.net, four members of the fleet are currently active, meaning that the ball is rolling for the wider return.
Other new LCCs around the world also value the 737-800. For instance, Norwegian startup Flyr recently signed two letter of intent (LOI) documents for a pair of 737-800 jets. The overall type made its first delivery in 1998 and continues to be a trusted vessel today.
Altogether, Swoop will be excited to deploy more units of the jet in the coming months. When pressed about if any of the additions to make up the 30-member fleet will be other types, Duncan affirmed his trust in the 737-800.
What are your thoughts about Swoop and the Boeing 737-800? How has your experience been when flying on the aircraft over the years? Let us know what you think of the carrier and the jet in the comment section.