WestJet has no alliance membership in its sights

Phoenix
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Canadian carrier WestJet plans for the time being to remain independent instead of joining one of the global airline alliances.

The membership of WestJet's rival Air Canada in the Star Alliance has made Canada's second largest carrier an attractive partner to many carriers outside the Star grouping.

WestJet VP of revenue planning and management John MacLeod during the Phoenix International Aviation Symposium on 29 April said the carrier has a number of potential partners lined up at its door.

Earlier this year WestJet executives said the carrier aims to add three-to-four additional inbound interline partners this year. In 2009 WestJet started an interline partnership with Air France-KLM.

But WestJet has no immediate plans to align with either the Oneworld or SkyTeam alliance as MacLeod explains from a geographic perspective neither grouping offers the perfect fit for the carrier. Using Oneworld as an example, he cites its strong presence in the Los Angeles market, but a weakness for the alliance in China.

MacLeod explains while WestJet understands complexities and costs associated with codesharing, the revenue gained from those tie-ups is "a no brainer".

Even as plans for WestJet to forge a codeshare with Southwest were recently dissolved, MacLeod tells ATI and Flightglobal WestJet is leaving the door open to future discussions about a tie-up.

Southwest and WestJet broke off their agreement to form a codeshare after reports surfaced Delta and WestJet were holding codeshare talks.

WestJet later clarified no alliance agreement had been reached with Delta, but a commercial agreement could occur in the future. In a separate proposal, Delta seeks to transfer five slot pairs at LaGuardia to WestJet in order to gain approval for a larger slot swap between Delta and US Airways.

WestJet during the last year has worked to build codeshare agreements and target a larger number of business travellers through the introduction of a new loyalty programme and a branded credit card.

MacLeod says later in the year WestJet plans to roll-out more segmented products targeted toward business travellers.

"It is part of our move away from low cost to low cost, high value," he explains.