WestJet and Delta

WestJet and Delta announced a signed interline agreement between the two airlines last Monday.  WestJet already has a number of interline agreements with other airlines and it appears to be behaving in the Alaska Airlines model more than anything else.  In other words, it will do a deal with whoever makes sense.

This is a great deal for Delta as it gives me them some access to the Canadian market that its alliance, Sky Team, lacks so far.  Only Star Alliance has some penetration in Canada via Air Canada.  I expect all both Sky Team and Oneworld to pursue WestJet as a candidate for their alliances in the attempt to lock out their competition from what is the only real “national” airline in Canada other than Air Canada.

This announcement also has to sting Southwest Airlines.  Southwest was set to enter into a similar agreement with WestJet but that crumbled apart when WestJet pulled out after waiting 2 years for that partnership to be enacted.  It was an ideal connection for Southwest and a big loss as well.  There won’t be another opportunity like that in Canada for a very long, long time. 

While Southwest Airlines hasn’t signaled any moves towards Canada yet, I actually expect them to do so but only after they are firmly capable of international flying in their IT systems.  They have a lot of their plate presently so I wouldn’t expect this in the next 2 years but I do expect it.  I also hope that Southwest learns from that experience and realizes that being a bit more agile when partnering with people is a good thing and waiting years to make it happen may well result in changing circumstances that put them out of the game.

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