An opportunity to drive large amounts of revenue was not a significant contributor in Southwest's decision to forge codesharing pacts Mexican carrier Volaris and Canadian airline WestJet.

The Dallas-based carrier is already linking to the websites of its soon-to-be partners through what Southwest senior director of planning and distribution Richard Sweet deems as "pre-codeshare distribution". Sweet in a recent interview with ATI explained the web tie-ups give both Volaris and WestJet a US point of sale not previously available to them. In addition that first phase of their agreements bridges a gap while all three carriers are working on the necessary technology to introduce full codeshares in the 2009-2010 time period.

But while Southwest's previous codeshare with ATA Airlines at one point generated a high of $50 million annually, Sweet says the "Canadian opportunity isn't as great".

He explains Southwest's decision to choose WestJet was driven more by having a "partner that thought a lot like us", adding it was a good opportunity for the two airlines to learn together.

The carrier used a similar line of thinking in selecting Volaris as Sweet says: "Additional revenues were not guiding our decisions in those two cases." Revenue traction might play more of a role as the carrier moves forward with additional codesharing deals.

Building the necessary technologies to begin full codeshares with Volaris and WestJet will "minimize the time it will take to add a third, fourth, fifth or sixth partner", says Sweet.

Based on the technology Southwest is building he says it would "still be simpler to add another partner is this hemisphere. A lot of that has to do with the dateline changes".

Sweet highlights there are a lot of variables Southwest will examine before expanding the number of its codeshare partners including revenue opportunities and technological compatibility.

"There's nothing pressing us to make that decision," he notes. "We've got our plate full with both Volaris and WestJet right now."

After former codeshare partner ATA ceased operations last year Southwest was left without a partner in Hawaii. One of key elements of that deal was the ability of Southwest passengers to fly on ATA's flights to Hawaii from Oakland, California.

The carrier did a good deal of analysis once both ATA and Aloha Airlines went out of business, Sweet says. "The non-committed players basically went down to Hawaiian."

While Southwest has "certainly had conversations with them [Hawaiian]", Sweet explains that "we have different philosophical viewpoints on how to serve the market. It was too difficult for us to come to any conclusions".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news