Want to Get Away - Eh? Southwest Airlines to Offer International Service via Pact With Canadian Carrier WestJet, Service Scheduled for Late 2009



    
    Southwest Airlines and WestJet Take First Step Toward Codeshare
    Partnership, Opening a New Gateway Between United States and Canada
    

    DALLAS, July 8 /CNW/ -- Southwest Airlines today announced its intention
to build a codeshare partnership with Canadian carrier WestJet. The two
airlines have completed the first step in creating a relationship that will
eventually allow the carriers to offer Customers a seamless travel experience
to a wide array of destinations. This initial agreement puts the two airlines
on a path toward bringing more low fares and a better Customer experience
across the U.S./Canadian border. The airlines plan to announce codeshare
flight schedules and additional features regarding the partnership by late
2009. Certain details of the codeshare and elements of the partnership are
subject to approvals by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.
    "A company's dedication to Culture and Customer Service are very high on
our priority list when considering a relationship of any kind," said Southwest
Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly.  "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."
    WestJet was founded in 1996 as a western Canadian regional carrier with
three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, WestJet is Canada's leading
high-value, low-fare airline, offering scheduled service to 49 destinations in
Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The airline operates a
fleet of 75 Boeing Next-Generation 737-series aircraft.
    "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," said WestJet President and
CEO Sean Durfy. "When you examine our network in Canada and Southwest's
network in the United States, and the potential to significantly improve both
organization's market access, this is indeed a great day."
    The airlines are not ready to announce routes, schedules, or fares at
this point, but the agreement will eventually allow each carrier to check both
Customers and baggage to a passenger's final destination. The codeshare
partnership is intended to provide convenient, viable connecting schedules. In
addition, southwest.com will soon become a distribution channel for WestJet's
existing Canadian and transborder flights, providing Customers the opportunity
to purchase WestJet's existing flights via southwest.com (this option will be
online before actual connecting codeshare flights are available for purchase).
Other items that are on the list of things to consider include an integration
of each carrier's frequent flier program, ground handling opportunities, and a
possible extension of the carriers' cargo products.
    "We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international
market with WestJet, 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."
    "It is an honour to partner with one of the great airline success stories
of the world," Durfy said. "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."
    
    About Southwest Airlines
    
    After 37 years of service, Southwest Airlines, the nation's leading
low-fare carrier, continues to stand above 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 with all premium leather seats and plenty of legroom.
Southwest recently updated its gate areas and improved its boarding procedure
to make flying Southwest Airlines 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 systemwide.
    
    About WestJet
    
    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.
    This news release contains forward-looking statements related to
Southwest's intention to offer international service through an alliance with
WestJet. Specific statements relate to the anticipated impact of such alliance
on Southwest's routes, fares, and Customer experience. These forward-looking
statements are based on Southwest's current intent, beliefs, and expectations
and are not guarantees of future results. These statements involve risks,
uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that could cause actual results
to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors
include, among others, (i) the companies' ability to negotiate mutually
agreeable codeshare terms and their receipt of necessary governmental
approvals, (ii) consumer interest in, and demand for, the combined offering;
(iii) the impact of competitive offerings; and (iv) economic and related
uncertainties that could impact the ability of the two companies to fully
implement all of the initiatives currently contemplated by their alliance.
    
                           http://www.southwest.com

    





For further information:

For further information: Southwest Airlines Media Contact,
+1-214-792-4847; or Gillian Bentley of 888-WJ 4 NEWS, 1-888-954-6397,
gbentley@westjet.com, for WestJet Web Site: http://www.southwest.com

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