29 MARCH 2021


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Article from BTNews 29 MARCH 2021

Delta and WestJet – Progress?

America’s Delta Airlines and Canada’s WestJet have announced that they are deepening their relationship by expanding the benefits of their frequent flyer rewards programmes (FFP) to eligible customers of both airlines Bernard Lavelle reports.

The new enhanced scheme will allow eligible members to receive priority boarding and check-in, lounge access, preferred seats with the selection fee waived and additional checked baggage allowance with priority drop-off and handling through the journey. Where available, fast-track security will also be offered.

This enhanced scheme was first mooted back in December 2017, when Delta and WestJet announced their plans for a joint venture (JV).  The plan was to coordinate schedules on new routes and destinations as well as expand their codeshare relationship.

Although approved by the Canadian Government, the US Department of Transport (DOT), only gave tentative approval for the JV on 23 October last year. This approval came with strings attached, which included the removal of WestJet’s ultra-low-cost carrier Swoop from the JV and the need for WestJet to divest 16 take-off and landing slots at LaGuardia (LGA), Delta’s New York hub.

On 20 November 2020, both airlines announced that the JV was being scrapped, citing the “unreasonable and unacceptable” demands from the DOT. Delta and WestJet said that losing slots would deprive them “of critical operating rights at one of the most important strategic hubs in Delta’s global network.”

With the new reciprocity on their FFP, it is clear that Delta and WestJet have not given up hope of deepening their relationship further and a second try at the JV should not be ruled out. With a new US DOT administration in place, the announcement of the enhanced FFP may be a precursor to a repackaged JV being proposed in the future.



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