Southwest cuts ties with WestJet

Washington DC
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Southwest Airlines had followed through on warnings that it would cut ties to Canadian carrier WestJet with its announcement today that it was terminating their agreement to forge a codeshare pact.

Southwest and WestJet unveiled their intention to codeshare in 2008 and were targeting an introduction of the agreement in late 2009 or early 2010. But those plans were delayed largely due to technological projects underway at Southwest to develop the ability to create codesharing agreements.

Explaining that WestJet has requested significant changes to the deal, Southwest says it "cannot agree with the modifications of the confidential agreement".

New WestJet chief Gregg Saretsky recently make comments to the Canadian press about a potential WestJet-Delta codeshare. Delta has agreed to transfer five pairs of slots at New York LaGuardia airport to WestJet to satisfy regulator demands to win approval for a larger slot swap with US Airways at LaGuardia and Washington National airports. "We prefer the existing terms of our agreement with WestJet. Upon reviewing the number of changes that WestJet has requested, we have decided that it is in the best interest of both parties to move forward independently," says Southwest EVP of Strategy and Planning Bob Jordan.

Southwest remains interested in offering service to Canada at some point, says Jordan. "That would not rule out future codeshare relationships with Canadian carriers, or flying north of the border ourselves," he adds.