WestJet’s decision to shut down Sunwing Airlines to integrate it into its core business will result in reduced service and fare increases, particularly in Western Canada and smaller cities across the country, experts said Monday.
Sunwing told its employees on Wednesday that it would be absorbed by its new owner, less than a week after WestJet announced its intention to close its low-cost airline Swoop.
John Gradek, who teaches in McGill University’s aviation management program, says the latest move is bad news for consumers interested in traveling to hotter destinations, given more limited flight options and more expensive tickets which are likely to arise after the merger of former competitors.
Aviation consultant Rick Erickson says Air Transat and Air Canada will provide a healthy mix of competition for sun destinations, but travelers in smaller markets from Saskatoon to St. John’s may well have to shell out more.
In an October report, the Competition Bureau said WestJet and Sunwing accounted for 37% of seat capacity on direct flights to sun destinations and 72% from Western Canada.
In a memo to employees last week, Sunwing Airlines president Len Corrado said integration with WestJet, which acquired the low-cost carrier in May, would take place within two years. and that the transaction was part of a strategy to gain scale and growth opportunities.