Swoop hires new head of commercial

Bert van der Stege will oversee several areas, including marketing, to drive growth and revenue at the ultra low-cost carrier.
Swoop-Swoop Names Bert van der Stege- Head of Commercial

Ultra low-cost carrier Swoop has added 20 years of aviation experience to its leadership, hiring Bert van der Stege as its head of commerical.

Van der Stege is coming off of three years as VP and chief commercial officer at the Halifax International Airport Authority, where he led the team responsible for marketing, airport experience and public affairs. He also had a similar role at First Air – which was consolidated with Canadian North last year – as well as marketing leadership positions at Arik Air in Nigeria and Lufthansa in Germany.

At Swoop, Van der Stege has been given a broad remit, which includes oversight of marketing, but also network and planning, pricing, distribution and sales, with a focus on driving revenue and growth. After initially focusing on building brand awareness, Swoop’s marketing has since been focused on a content-led approach meant to get travellers to “rethink” air travel within Canada, as well as some promotional activities, such as offering 100,000 seats for $1.

Swoop was founded in 2018 by WestJet, as the previously regional airline wanted a service that could continue to address consumer demand for low-cost air travel as it pursued ambitions of becoming a global airline. Other airlines sprung up in order to similarly offer more affordable rates to Canadians, though have not fared as well: an inability to meet a financing condition resulted in investors terminating their agreements with Jetlines, which had to then postpone its first flight, planned for Dec. 17 of last year.

Flair Airlines, a cargo carrier that began pivoting to low-cost commercial service in 2017, pulled out of Hamilton’s airport after Swoop also began flying out of it, and last week pulled out of Abbotsford, B.C. (Swoop says Edmonton-to-Abbotsford is currently its most popular route). Flair has accused Swoop of predatory pricing, a subject that is currently the subject of an ongoing Competition Bureau investigation that began in Nov. 2018 (WestJet and Flair have offered little comment on the ongoing investigation, beyond speaking to the category more broadly, saying the companies “welcome competition and believe the market can support significant growth in the ultra-low-cost space for many years to come”).