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July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Southwest Airlines Co., the largest U.S. discounter, and Canada's WestJet Airlines Ltd. agreed to form an alliance by late 2009, giving the carriers access to routes outside their home markets.

 

Southwest, which only flies in the lower 48 states, would be able to book customers on WestJet flights to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean and for ski trips in Canada through Calgary or Vancouver. The deal also advances WestJet's goal of expanding in the U.S. WestJet rose the most in more than three years in Toronto trading.

 

``This gives WestJet exactly what they need in terms of growing their trans-border flights,'' said Chris Murray, an analyst at CIBC World Markets in Toronto, who rates WestJet ``market outperform.'' ``The deal would make sense for Southwest to build its service into Canada, too.''

 

The airlines aren't yet ready to announce routes, schedules or fares, Dallas-based Southwest said. Certain details of the agreement must be approved by the U.S. and Canadian governments, the airlines said.

 

Travelers will be able to purchase seats on WestJet flights through Southwest's Web site before the codeshare agreement takes effect.

 

Updating Computers

 

Southwest has said it should finish updating its computer systems next year to allow for international travel. The company has been searching for an alliance partner to replace the defunct ATA Airlines Inc., which had given Southwest passengers access to Hawaii.

 

``We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international markets with WestJet,'' Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said in the statement.

 

WestJet flies to holiday destinations in the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico and St. Lucia. Its continental U.S. routes include Newark, New Jersey, and vacation cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando, Florida.

 

``This is a defining moment for WestJet,'' CEO Sean Durfy said in the company's statement ``We are delivering on our strategic plan with this announcement today.''

 

WestJet, which began flying in 1996 and was founded on Southwest's no-frills model, offers a single economy-class cabin on all its flights.

 

WestJet rose C$1.41, or 11 percent, to C$14.10 at 4:10 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading, the biggest gain since March 2005. Southwest climbed 80 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $13.95 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The percentage increase was largest since February.

 

(Courtesy of Bloomberg)

 

After I read this, I was thinking what if...

 

Southwest (US) [535 planes]

Jetblue (US) [141+ planes]

Westjet (CAN) [75+ planes]

Zoom (CAN) [5 planes]

Air Transat (CAN) [17 planes]

Air Berlin (DEU) [126+ planes]

 

This would be an interesting alliance seeing Air Berlin and Zoom fly from Canada to certain spots in Europe. Plus all these small airlines, with low-fares might be something N.A needs, but I could be wrong, seeing I am no economist.

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Ma conjointe travail pour Transat et croyez moi que ça parlait dans les bureau de la rue Léo-Parizeau hier. Transat refuse depuis plusieurs années de se joindre à certaine Alliance.

 

Ça permet de baisser ces couts en même d'offrir de nouvelles destinations. Peut-être que ce "move" de Westjet va les faire penser.

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C'est une bonne nouvelle. Je me suis toujours demande pourquoi JetBlue ou SouthWest n'essayaient pas d'etendre leur reseaux a Montreal/Toronto/Vancouver, quite a utiliser des aeroports alternatifs (St-Hubert, l'ile en face du centre-ville a Toronto, ...) plutot que de deservir de tres petites communautes au Etats-Unis. Les regles d'harmonisation ne doivent pas etre si compliquees.... Si ca passe par un codeshare avec un transporteur canadien, tant mieux, je pense que les deux societes vont en ressortir gagnantes. Enfin d'autres options pour eviter Air Canada (desole je n'y peux rien, je ne les aime vraiment pas). Pour ce qui est d'Air Transat, il me semble que leur marche est assez different de celui de Southwest, quoique ca aurrait pu apporter beaucoup de destination interessante pour eux.

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