Who gets the most from Southwest/WestJet deal?

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Cui bono? The English, at least the old-fashioned sangfroid Oxbridge types love to ask that. It means (loosely) “To whose benefit?” or, “Who Wins?” That‘s the question to ask in the very big news that Southwest Airlines has signed its first big international deal, a code-share with Canada‘s WestJet. They’re both fine airlines, even though WestJet is slightly more of a hybrid than Southwest.

But if you look at a route map, you have to wonder what‘s in it for Dallas-based Southwest. Yes, some Southwest flyers will want to go to Canada in the summer, but to our aged eyes it would seem that the prime beneficiary is WestJet, based out there on the prairies of Alberta.

 

The Calgary-based carrier adds a huge amount of capacity into the warm weather spots that the snowbirds of the Great White North like in colder months (which in Canada are basically September through April). On the other hand, this may be a very good testing ground for Southwest to try out its new software upgrades that chief executive Gary Kelly says will enable multiple code-shares. And it does something about Southwest’s always lagging load factors: just gtting more people on board may aid an airline that typically fills just 73% or 74% of its seats when the industry average is as much as seven or eight percentage points higher.


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