July 8, 2008
WestJet and Southwest Airlines Announce Signing of Agreement
WestJet (TSX: WJA) today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to build a distribution and codeshare agreement with U.S. based Southwest Airlines. This memorandum of understanding is the first step that will see both airlines, by late 2009, have the ability to commence codeshare flights across both networks. In the near future, southwest.com will become a distribution channel for WestJet's existing Canadian and transborder flights. Other potential opportunities within the agreement include purchasing, ground handling, marketing and selling to corporate accounts and other areas of mutual gain.
Sean Durfy, President and CEO of WestJet commented, "This is a defining moment for WestJet. Clearly, we are delivering on our strategic plan with this announcement today. It marks an important step forward for our guests and their ability to fly to more destinations in the United States conveniently and cost effectively. When you examine our network in Canada and Southwest's network in the United States, and the potential to significantly improve both organizations' market access, this is indeed a great day.
"It is an honour to partner with one of the great airline success stories of the world," continued Durfy. "The effort put forth by Gary Kelly and his management team to negotiate this relationship is most appreciated and I look forward to building a great bond with Southwest. Together we will demonstrate that low-cost, high-value airlines represent the future success of air travel."
Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said, "A company's dedication to Culture and Customer Service are very high on our priority list when considering a relationship of any kind. We are confident that we've found a perfect fit with WestJet, and we are excited to work toward opening our expansive U.S. network to include Canadian destinations.
"We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international market with an airline partner that we hold in high esteem," Kelly said. "We have a very talented group of Employees who will continue to work diligently over the next year to develop and deliver a superior international codeshare product into the marketplace."
The airlines plan to introduce a distribution plan in 2008 with a codeshare agreement in place in late 2009. Certain details of the codeshare and elements of the partnering relationship are subject to approvals by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. Subject to receipt of these approvals, the airlines plan to announce flight schedules and additional features regarding the partnering relationship in late 2009.
WestJet is Canada's leading high-value low-cost airline offering scheduled service throughout its 49-city North American (including Hawaii), Mexico and Caribbean network. Named Canada's most admired corporate culture in 2005, 2006 and 2007, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. WestJet offers increased legroom and leather seats on its modern fleet of 75 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, and live seatback television provided by Bell ExpressVu. With future confirmed deliveries for an additional 46 aircraft, bringing its fleet to 121 by 2013, WestJet strives to be the number one choice for travellers.
About Southwest Airlines
After 37 years of service, Southwest Airlines, the United State's leading low-fare carrier, continues to differentiate itself from other airlines-offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service. Southwest Airlines is the most productive airline in the sky and offers Customers a comfortable traveling experience. Southwest offers a very comfortable ride with all premium leather seats and plenty of legroom with a young all Boeing 737 fleet. Southwest recently updated its gate areas and improved its boarding procedure to make flying Southwest even more convenient and simple. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, currently serves 64 cities in 32 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,400 flights a day and has more than 34,000 Employees system wide.
Contacts: WestJet Media Relations Gillian Bentley 1-888-WJ 4 NEWS (1-888-954-6397) Email: [email protected] Website: www.westjet.com