In the midst of a major expansion, WestJet looks to grow its partnership with Delta Air Lines – Photo: John Jamieson
On December 6th, 2017, WestJet and Delta announced they would be expanding their partnership into a cross-border joint venture. The agreement, which should be finalized later this year, signifies WestJet’s arrival on the global stage. Once a Southwest lookalike, WestJet has become a hybrid carrier capable of challenging Air Canada.
Their success may have come at a price. Over the past few years, WestJet increased their operational costs and complexity in pursuing Air Canada. On the heels of their first quarterly loss in 13 years, WestJet is hoping 2019 brings clearer skies. However, with complicated labor contracts to sort out, the airline seems to be heading for more turbulence. Their joint venture with Delta could be the key to regaining some lost momentum.
Before I delve into the complexities of the airlines’ joint venture, it’s worth understanding how far WestJet has come in its 22 years.
American and Delta have called it quits – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Some parts of the airline industry are very “cloak-and-dagger,” but once in a while something rears its ugly head and seems like it could be a bad thing, if only you knew what the heck was going on. Such is the case now, as two of the largest airlines in the world, who also happen to be bitter rivals, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, abruptly ended their interline agreement on September 15.
Why would direct competitors have such a partnership in place, and what does it mean for the flying public?
Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 at SeaTac Airport – Photo: Don Wilson | Port of Seattle
So, everybody and their brother has been writing about the recent announcement from Delta Air Lines that they’re further expanding their domestic flight schedule out of Seattle (SEA). There have been stories from mainstream media, miles/points bloggers, and (of course) industry watchers such as ourselves. Yet, we wanted to talk amongst ourselves and digest the information before weighing in.
Why is this a story? It’s because Alaska Airlines (AS), which is based out of Seattle, is supposed to be a partner airline with Delta. All three of the recently announced Delta routes are in direct competition with Alaska; actually 8 of Delta’s 13 domestic routes out of Seattle compete with Alaska.
As a guy who grew up in Washington State, and went to college at the University of Washington, I hold a special place in my heart for Alaska. An all-Boeing 737 operator, they have a loyal following in the Northwest. I just flew Alaska to and from Denver, and enjoyed their solid customer service, low-priced First Class upgrades, and great ground experience out of Seattle. (Although, as seems to be common from Denver, I got stuck on the Disneyland plane – am I the only one freaked out by flying on this bird?!).