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United and Air Canada Sign Joint Agreement

United and Air Canada announced a joint venture to share revenue across the U.S./Canadian border. In a release, United said, “Air Canada’s transborder network to 59 U.S. cities will be strengthened by United’s presence in 210 U.S. airports. Similarly, United’s transborder network to 16 Canadian cities will be strengthened by Air Canada’s network serving 59 communities across Canada.”

The airline says the deal will likely take effect in early 2011, following the standard regulatory filings and approvals. The two airlines already have antitrust immunity from the Department of Transportation.

As with any airline partnership, the airline goes to great lengths to tout the consumer benefits: “Working cooperatively with our partner Air Canada, we can create a more streamlined travel experience for customers traveling between the United 
States and Canada, providing more travel options and benefits while reducing travel times,” says United CEO Jeff Smisek. The release also says the deal will “generate substantial … pricing benefits for consumers traveling between the two countries.”

Predicting the pricing benefits of a United-Air Canada partnership is tricky, but otherwise this is probably a decent deal for consumers. Air Canada is Canada’s biggest carrier, and United is now the largest carrier in the world. For people flying between Canada and the U.S., having those two airlines cooperate will certainly open up more streamlined travel options. And if sharing revenue really does allow both airlines to lower prices a bit, all the better.

Readers, do you think a United-Air Canada tie-up will have a positive effect on fares to and from Canada?

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