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Southwest on the verge of historic code sharing and/or interline agreement?

But with who?

It what might be the airline equivalent of hell freezing over, a leaked internal memo from Southwest’s Senior Vice President of Network and Revenue indicates that the airline may be ready to undertake code share and interline agreements with other airlines. The memo, obtained by the Chicago Business Journal indicates that Southwest is looking to airline further ashore, as in internationally rather than joining forces with any of the US3 or other low cost carriers as this move would generate the most revenue for the airline.

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This well and truly represents a seismic shift in the airline’s strategy thus far of ‘going at it alone’. At the same time, with Southwest’s absolutely massive domestic network, an international feeder airline would be key for both parties and could lead to an excellent partnership, akin to what Emirates currently has with JetBlue – just on a much bigger scale.

In the memo, the SVP states:

“Long-haul partners could increase our shoulder flying — the periods between peak travel — in Southwest gateways and increase customer traffic without displacing our current Southwest customer base. Additionally, more demand for Southwest Airlines segments could lead to more flights and/or year-round capacity in existing markets.”

One possible hitch is that Southwest crew might reject the deal – as a potential code sharing agreement might mean less flying on Southwest metal for current flight deck and cabin crew. This was the main reason that last year’s ‘passenger recommendation’ deal with JetBlue failed – in that in times of irregular operations ticketed Southwest passengers could be transferred over to B6. After much deliberation the deal was scuppered after the pilots association put pressure on management.

Either way if this pushes through this is a major development in the lifetime of Southwest Airlines – while incredibly successful in their business model they have perennially lagged behind in terms of technology (especially their back end booking systems) and have been exceedingly conservative in their pursuit of international travel. Imagine a seamless interline and code sharing agreement between a reputable international airline with reliable and frequent service into Southwest hubs such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Baltimore, Atlanta and Denver paired up with the airline’s ridiculously large operations out of those cities and more.

British Airways. So charmed to meet you.

 

 

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