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."