Published: 09 Jul 2008:Southwest Airlines Co. Is to enter into a partnership with Canadian low-cost flier WestJet Airlines Ltd.
The partnership will allow passengers on either airline to be transferred seamlessly across each other´s network.
The code-sharing deal would essentially open up most of the United States to WestJet´s passengers, and Canada to Southwest´s customers. The airlines said they hoped to have the final agreement in place by late 2009.
Under the code-share, the two airlines will sell seats on each others´ flights, which means both get access to new customers with lower marketing costs. The agreement will combine the flight schedules and paths for the airlines, as well as fares. Travelers will be able to use Southwest´s website for booking flights on WestJet as well as Southwest, and the two companies will share frequent-flier programmes.
"We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international market," said Southwest´s Chief Executive Gary Kelly.
As per the information available, the code-sharing deal was made possible after WestJet upgraded its Open Sky reservation system earlier this year. The Calgary carrier had said it had hoped to strike such strategic deals with one or two carriers this year, with Cathay Pacific and British Airways already expressing interest in doing so.
Southwest had been seeking to expand its network into the international arena, but after the collapse of ATA Airlines in early April had been left without a partner.
"It´s very positive for WestJet, no question about it," reportedly said Cameron Doerksen, an analyst at Versant Partners. "WestJet´s trans border routes are limited to sun and leisure destinations. But when you include Southwest´s network, WestJet travelers will get access to almost all major cities in the US. It puts them on an equal footing with Air Canada. "