Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet appears unfazed by the highly-scrutinized delay in the launch of its planned codeshare with Southwest, assuring investors both carriers maintain regular contact and remain committed to expanding their partnership.

Southwest pushed for a delay of the codeshare introduction originally planned for later this year in order to pursue unspecified short-term revenue opportunities.

During an investor event today WestJet chief executive officer Sean Durfy said he has been in regular contact with Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly, who plans to visit WestJet next week.

Durfy explains Southwest has to "get its house in order" domestically before "they deploy this strategy [the codeshare]".

Emphasizing that all aviation industry participants are pressed in the current environment, especially in the US, Durfy cautions, "Let' not read too much into this [the delay]."

WestJet's chief executive says the carriers are still contemplating all elements of their proposed codeshare arrangement including potential gains in procurement "up to aircraft".

Another WestJet executive explains the carrier is already seeing positive revenue results from a link featured on Southwest's website to the WestJet site. "We're pretty pleased with it," he notes.

Despite the codeshare delay and a recession that is likely to last longer "than any of us anticipate" Durfy explains WestJet's long-term expansion plans remain intact.

WestJet anticipates adding six-to-eight new destinations in the US and 10 in the Caribbean by 2013. Its network enlargement corresponds with a projected fleet growth of 86 Boeing 737s by year-end 2009 to 121 in 2013.

The carrier's market share targets for US transborder markets include a rise from 11% on an annual basis currently to 20%-25% in 2013. WestJet has the same goals for its Mexican and Caribbean market share, with a projected annual rise from its current 11% to 20%-25%.

WestJet's domestic market share growth targets include an increase from its current 36% to 45%-50% by 2013.

But Durfy realises that at the current pricing points "I don't think anyone is stimulating the market, we're maintaining what we have".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news