Delta Air Lines and WestJet have finalised a joint venture agreement, as they move towards closer cooperation between Canada and the USA.
The agreement will expand on the carriers' codeshare agreement and allow them to jointly coordinate schedules and plan growth, co-locate at key airports, provide reciprocal frequent flier benefits, and cooperate on cargo operations, Delta and WestJet say in a joint statement on 19 July.
"Delta's future is global and together with WestJet, we can augment the two airlines' capabilities and bring together our strengths in this important trans-border market," says Ed Bastian, chief executive of Delta.
The immunised partnership will be the Atlanta-based carrier's sixth joint venture with a foreign carrier, the latest being a tie up with Korean Air that began in May.
"WestJet continues its drive toward becoming a global airline, and the signing of this agreement marks a major milestone in that journey," says Ed Sims, president and chief executive of WestJet. "The joint venture will allow us to maximise our existing partnership with Delta to benefit customers by bringing greater competition to the trans-border market."
Delta and WestJet serve 63 trans-border markets, connecting 11 airports in Canada with 26 in the USA in July, FlightGlobal schedules show.
Delta and WestJet's combined trans-border network, July 2018
The airlines combined have a 24.2% share of Canada-USA capacity in July, schedules show. This is second to Air Canada's 50.7% share of capacity, and ahead of United Airlines' 12.3% share.
Delta and WestJet plan to file for antitrust approval in both Canada and the USA within the next month, and hope for a decision within a year, says WestJet.
Sims told FlightGlobal in April that WestJet hoped for approval by the end of 2018, pending a mid-year application to regulatory authorities.
The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture between Delta and WestJet in December 2017.