WestJet strikes transport deal with Air France-KLM

Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:08pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

OTTAWA (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd said on Thursday it has struck a deal with Air France-KLM that lets passengers board the European carriers' planes and travel to a final destination in WestJet's Canadian network with a single ticket.

WestJet, Canada's second-biggest airline, said the interline agreement is an "important strategic move" and could lead to a full code-share deal, in which the airlines sell seats on each other's flights.

"Is this significant from a revenue point of view? No question," said independent airline consultant Rick Erickson. "It's almost gravy on your bottom line."

Erickson said that Air Canada executives have said on conference calls that as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of gross revenue comes from alliance partners.

Initially, connections will be made through WestJet's Calgary and Vancouver gateways, with the option to continue on to Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton.

That provides a "measured and thoughtful approach", said WestJet, which plans to expand the arrangement to its entire Canadian network.

The arrangement will also allow the airlines to try out WestJet's new reservations system software, before a full launch the company has scheduled for the fourth quarter.

Late in 2008, WestJet said it had signed a deal with Sabre Airline Solutions for its SabreSonic reservation system after it was forced to abandon its attempt to have one designed.   Continued...