Starbucks outlets are becoming so ubiquitous that some joke that the only place to open a new Starbucks is in an existing Starbucks. The low-cost carrier revolution has been so successful that something similar may happen, with old LCCs spinning off new ULCCs.
Maybe it has already begun. Canadian carrier WestJet started 22 years ago as a low-cost alternative to the country's legacy airlines and now serves 109 destinations across North and Central America. It has now established Swoop, an ultra-low-cost carrier that offers even lower fares from its bases in Vancouver and Toronto to, well, all over North America and Central America. Swoop flies Boeing 737-800s and expects to have ten flying by spring 2019.
In line with its ultra-low cost model, Swoop currently contracts all maintenance work to third-party MROs and other approved maintenance organizations. It expects to continue this arrangement until its approved growth to ten aircraft has been realized, says Karen McIsaac, senior advisor on communications.
“After that time, we will evaluate the setup based on future growth and adjust as needed,” McIsaac says. “Swoop is a subsidiary of WestJet, and, as such, WestJet is the main service provider. However, we also use other providers as required throughout Canada and in other countries.”
At present, Swoop’s small technical operations team oversees this contract work and coordinates maintenance and engineering efforts. McIsaac says the new airline does not face any special challenges in securing maintenance. “The challenges faced are common to many airlines, in that costs of service, providers of service and hanger availability can vary from location to location.”