Delta and Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet have reached a
preliminary agreement to form a antitrust-immune joint venture.
Should the joint venture be approved by the companies’
boards and by antitrust regulators in Canada and the U.S., Delta and WestJet
would jointly schedule, market and operate flights between the U.S. and Canada.
The deal would expand upon the codeshare and frequent-flyer
program partnership that the two carriers have had since 2012.
Delta currently codeshares on 72 WestJet routes to 33
Canadian cities and WestJet codeshares on 168 Delta routes to 74 U.S. cities.
The airlines said the joint venture would lead to
coordinated flight schedules for new nonstop flights, expanded codesharing and
enhanced frequent-flyer benefits for Delta SkyMiles and WestJet Rewards program
Delta has existing joint ventures with Virgin Atlantic,
Korean Air, Aeromexico and Air France-KLM/Alitalia.
U.S. regulators have typically approved joint venture
applications in recent years, though sometimes with a few restrictive
In one exception to that pattern, the Department of Transportation
rejected an American-Qantas joint venture application late last year out of
concern that the carriers would control too much of U.S.-Australia market.