ROUTES: Southwest seeks international partners

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Southwest Airlines will begin interlining and codesharing with international airlines, after it upgrades its domestic reservations system.

This will be a first for the carrier, which codeshares with only subsidiary AirTran Airways today and will take its first foray into international flying in July.

The airline had earlier said it would replace its domestic reservations system and plans to select a vendor in the first half of this year. Southwest's senior director of network planning John Kirby says the airline will make an announcement on this soon.

"It will be a new and more robust system," says Kirby on the sidelines of Routes Americas in San Salvador. "It will give us opportunities to work with international airlines in the area of interlining and longer term codesharing."

This will be similar to what fellow low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways is already doing with several international airlines, he adds. JetBlue's partnerships allow foreign carriers to transfer international passengers onto JetBlue's domestic network.

Kirby says Southwest is in talks with several vendors, including Amadeus, which had provided the airline with its new international reservations system. He declines to be more specific about the providers the airline is in discussions with.

Southwest's domestic reservations system is run on Sabre.

Southwest had contracted Amadeus to supply its international reservations system so it can operate its first international flights in July. The flights are now operated by AirTran and will be transitioned to Southwest metal. Kirby says sales of the international flights with the Amadeus system have" gone swimmingly".