Densification: WestJet Adding Seats To Lower Fares

Canadians may have lost Swoop Airlines, but WestJet says it will provide new low-cost flight options by putting another row of seats on some of its planes.

In an interview with Skies magazine, WestJet chief executive officer Alexis von Hoensbroech said seating changes in the 737 cabins mean WestJet will be adding an extra row of seats at the back of those planes in an effort to offer cheaper tickets.  The less expensive seats would be a way of providing the kind of low-cost fares that Swoop offered before it was eliminated by Westjet.

“We decided that instead of offering 16 Swoop airplanes and the pure play, ultra-low-cost offering, we will actually offer ultra-low-cost fares and products on all our 180 airplanes,” von Hoensbroech said. “So we will go from 174 to 180 seats, and this densification will happen mainly at the back of the plane. The idea is that those seats are then offered to those people that are actually looking for an ultra-low-cost offering.”

While the seat pitch would be reduced in economy class, the story in Skies magazine said WestJet "is emphasizing the design of the new seats will ensure passengers have enough leg room."

The story noted that WestJet has brought Sunwing Vacations into WestJet and will fully integrate Sunwing Airlines by OCT of next year.

"Together, this is going to be the vacation and tour operator powerhouse for Canada,” von Hoensbroech said.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance Canada last month, von Hoensbroech said the combined company is now covering roughly 50% of the vacation market in Canada.

“So, we’re the clear market leader. And that’s coast to coast by the way, not just west but also east. This is a very strong position we have that should allow us to offer the most attractive product to Canadians.”

In the same interview with Yahoo Canada, von Hoensbroech said demand is now more in line with capacity, which has helped bring prices down.

“I think there will be lots of bargain options for this winter and also next summer,” he said. “We do expect in the year to come that there will be some softness in the market.”


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