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WestJet to Bail on Southwest Alliance?

It appears WestJet, an emerging Canadian low-cost carrier, might pull out of a proposed codeshare deal with Southwest in favor of a similar deal with Delta. Ben Mutzabaugh at Today in the Sky writes that it’s mostly about reach: Delta has more, and Southwest has less. “Delta has a sizeable presence at LaGuardia, and—if WestJet is able to restore its Toronto-LaGuardia service—Delta could connect arriving WestJet passengers to its own flights to destinations such as Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington and others.”

Adding to the problems for Southwest is the rather fundamental problem of its reservations system, which currently cannot handle codeshares. “We like the Southwest partnership,'” WestJet chief executive Gregg Saretsky tells the Financial Post, “but they’ve signaled to us that they’re not going to be ready.”

For U.S. travelers, particularly fans of Southwest, this has to be a bit of a letdown. WestJet is seen as Canada’s version of Southwest, and the partnership was to be Southwest’s first foray into international travel. The agreement would have allowed Southwest customers to book seamless travel to any of WestJet’s destinations in Canada.

For Canadian travelers, however, an agreement between WestJet and Delta, along with other proposed codeshares with Air France/KLM and China Airlines, could catapult WestJet into serious contention with Air Canada for market dominance. The low-cost carrier has also talked with British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

Readers, are you disappointed by this news? Would you have been interested in a Southwest/WestJet codeshare?

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