Talks by WestJet with Air France and Cathay Pacific are the latest signs that network airlines are willing to consider interlining with low-cost carriers.

The Cathay talks have produced no timetable yet, but WestJet hopes to start accepting Air France passengers by mid-year. The goal is for WestJet to interline behind and beyond traffic at Air France's gateways in Montreal and Toronto, and Cathay's gateways in Vancouver and Toronto.

WestJet estimates that traffic feed with overseas airlines boosts Air Canada's domestic market share by 12 points. In an effort to claim some of this market, WestJet has sought for several years to upgrade computer systems so it could interline with foreign carriers. After its effort to launch a separate system failed, Navitaire offered an upgrade that allows WestJet to interface with the systems of foreign carriers. WestJet already interlines with Taiwanese flag carrier China Airlines.

A Navitaire upgrade has allowed several low-cost carriers to launch or consider launching interline or codeshares with other carriers. Navitaire customers already codesharing include Clickair, Jet4you, Jetstar, Gol and Virgin Blue. JetBlue also plans to launch in early 2008 a codeshare-like arrangement with Aer Lingus that includes the transfer of bags and passengers at JetBlue's New York JFK hub.

Source: Airline Business