WestJet prepares to add more interline partners later this year

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Canadian carrier WestJet istargeting to add three-to-four additional inbound interline partners later this year.

In 2009 WestJet initiated an interline partnership with Air France-KLM that now entails its European partner operating into four of WestJet's Canadian gateways and connecting to 11 cities, "with additional cities coming online later this year", says WestJet CEO Sean Durfy. During a 17 February earnings discussion Durfy says WestJet also has "in the books later in the year to bring three-to-four inbound interline partnerships into the foldwe want to see a bump this year in our partnership programme".

Durfy says that there's a "tremendous amount of juice in the partnership programme just by interlining into your own network and flowing it across your own network".

While WestJet intends to enjoy those advantages Durfy stresses the carrier still is interested in full-fledged codeshares, explaining being able to expand WestJet's network internationally is "tremendous".

WestJet and Southwest announced heralded plans in 2008 to forge a codeshare relationship. But Southwest in 2009 opted pushback the launch to focus on short-term revenue opportunities after the onset of the economic downturn.

"It comes down to the ability to codeshare from a technology standpoint," says Durfy. "You know what I can say is it [the Southwest partnership] will be pushed out further than 2010."

Earlier this year WestJet went live with a Sabre technology suite that supports codeshares, but Southwest is still in the midst of developing technology to forge those relationships.

Despite the uncertainty in the launch of the Southwest codeshare, Durfy says: "Gary [Southwest CEO Gary Kelly] and I are committed to doing this when Southwest is ready."