WestJet brings back former executive to helm budget carrier Swoop

Swoop Airlines Boeing 737 on display during their media event, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

The WestJet Group says it has hired Bob Cummings to reprise his role as president of discount subsidiary Swoop.

He replaces Charles Duncan, who is transitioning into a new position as executive vice-president of integration and strategic projects after 24 months atop Swoop.

Cummings oversaw the budget airline’s launch in 2018 after 13 years at WestJet, where he has held several executive titles.

He returns to an upended market, now crowded by ultra-low-cost competitors Flair Airlines and Lynx Air, which made its maiden voyage last week.

READ MORE: Lynx Air launches maiden voyage from Calgary

John Gradek, head of McGill University’s aviation management program, says both those fast-growing rivals have Swoop in their sights, with all three offering a slew of routes across Western Canada from their home turf in Alberta.

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He says Cummings understands the business and knows the culture at Swoop.

“You need somebody now who’s pretty aggressive and who’s willing to take the commercial strategy in dealing with the competitive threat posed by both Flair and Lynx. Because they’re going after Swoop big-time,” Gradek said in an interview.

READ MORE: Swoop announces new non-stop flights out of Edmonton to 9 locations

Cummings rejoins the team following two years spent helming regional carrier Central Mountain Air.

Previously, he led the growth of WestJet Vacations and WestJet Rewards and played a key role in the launch of regional airline WestJet Encore, the Calgary-based company said in a release Wednesday.

As WestJet’s chief commercial officer, he grew the airline’s revenue from $4 billion to $4.5 billion between 2015 and 2017, according to annual reports from the carrier, which went private after being purchased by Onex Corp. in 2019.


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