Southwest plays defense

So it all started with Delta and US Airways offering WestJet five pairs of slots at LaGuardia as part of a strategy to approve their massive slot swap at LaGuardia and Washington National Airports.

Then new WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky said the carrier could forge ahead with a Delta codeshare before launching its long-awaited and highly-anticipated codeshare with Southwest Airlines.

Southwest now appears to be smarting over being shut out of the LaGuardia slot allocation and WestJet’s potential deal with Delta through a terse warning today that it could cut ties to WestJet even before they launch a codeshare.

Thumbnail image for flip the switch.jpgBasically from what I can tell Southwest and WestJet possibly had a bit of exclusivity tied to their codeshare since Southwest said a WestJet-Delta tie-up would be “inconsistent” with the current pact Southwest and WestJet have in place. Southwest is also warning that if the WestJet-Delta deal goes ahead, it will offer its customers service to Canada through “the most efficient means possible”.

It’s anyone’s guess what’s happening behind the scenes here.  A deal with WestJet would give Delta, an anchor of the SkyTeam alliance, a foray into to Star’s territory in Canada dominated by Air Canada. It gives WestJet a partner with more breadth and depth than Southwest.

Still, it could also be a forceful gesture by WestJet to send strong message to Southwest to get its collective technological house in order, flip the switch and get on with their partnership.

Either way Saretsky has certainly raised eyebrows during his transition to WestJet’s top spot.  

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