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Southwest Takes First Steps Towards Codeshare Agreement With Canada's WestJet

Service Between US And Canada Scheduled For Late 2009

Southwest Airlines announced this week its intention to build a codeshare partnership with Canadian carrier WestJet. The two airlines have completed the first step in creating a relationship that will eventually allow both carriers to offer travel to a number of destinations.

The initial agreement, announced Tuesday, puts the two airlines on a path toward launching codeshare flights by late 2009, pending approval of certain details of the codeshare and elements of the partnership by both the US and Canadian governments.

"A company's dedication to Culture and Customer Service are very high on our priority list when considering a relationship of any kind," said Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly. "We are confident that we've found a perfect fit with WestJet, and we are excited to work toward opening our expansive U.S. network to include Canadian destinations."

WestJet was founded in 1996 as a western Canadian regional carrier with three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, WestJet offers scheduled service to 49 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The airline operates a fleet of 75 Boeing Next-Generation 737-series aircraft.

"This is a defining moment for WestJet. Clearly, we are delivering on our strategic plan with this announcement today. It marks an important step forward for our guests and their ability to fly to more destinations in the United States conveniently and cost effectively," said WestJet President and CEO Sean Durfy. "When you examine our network in Canada and Southwest's network in the United States, and the potential to significantly improve both organization's market access, this is indeed a great day."

The agreement will eventually give Southwest access to the Canadian market for the first time in its history. As ANN reported, previous Southwest codeshare partner ATA Airlines shut down operations April 3, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That codeshare gave Southwest the ability to sell tickets to Hawaii.

Neither Southwest nor WestJet are ready to announce routes, schedules, or fares at this point, but the agreement will eventually allow each carrier to check both customers and baggage to a passenger's final destination.

"We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international market with WestJet, an airline partner that we hold in high esteem," Kelly said. "We have a very talented group of Employees who will continue to work diligently over the next year to develop and deliver a superior international codeshare product into the marketplace."

FMI: www.southwest.com, www.westjet.com

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