April 2, 2010 / 12:51 AM / 8 years ago

Southwest, WestJet pact appears to be at risk

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A planned code-share pact between Southwest Airlines and WestJet Airlines Ltd appears to be at risk after Southwest learned WestJet was in talks with other airlines about similar partnerships.

In a statement, Southwest said a possible codeshare partnership between WestJet and Delta Air Lines “could be inconsistent” with an earlier agreement between Southwest and WestJet, Canada’s No. 2 carrier.

In 2008, the two airlines inked a code-share plan that would give Dallas-based Southwest a foothold in Canada and boost WestJet’s expansion plans.

This agreement was put on hold in May 2009 amid a sharp slide in air travel. A Southwest spokesman said the airline has been “trying to move forward with it (the agreement).”

But in recent weeks, WestJet has “requested material and significant changes to our agreement that we could not accept,” Southwest’s Bob Jordan, executive vice president of strategy and planning, said in a statement.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz declined to describe those changes or clarify Jordan’s remarks.

WestJet said this week that it started talking to other airlines, including Delta, about other partnerships to expand its travel network.

The news apparently caught Southwest off-guard; the airline said it learned of WestJet’s actions through news reports.

Southwest also said it learned of a deal in which Delta would transfer slots in New York’s LaGuardia Airport to WestJet.

In a statement, Southwest said it had not yet been notified of WestJet’s intent to end the agreement, but reiterated its intent to expanding its service to Canada.

“Southwest remains very interested in offering our loyal customers service to Canada via the most efficient means possible,” Jordan said in a statement.

WestJet could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; additional reporting by Jeffrey Jones in Calgary; editing by Leslie Gevirtz

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