WestJet Looks at oneworld

Oneworld, Westjet

A little bit of love for our friends north of the border . . .

Canada’s Globe and Mail is reporting that Westjet is looking to join the oneworld alliance anchored by American and British Airways. This is a pretty interesting move.

First things first. I’m neither a fan of oneworld nor of WestJet. For oneworld, it’s not that I don’t like the airlines in the alliance or the benefits involved. No. It’s that they are one of the many targets in my crusade against improper capitalization (or lack thereof). That’s the same exact reason WestJet has incurred my wrath. They have a great product, but that capital “J” just stares at me menacingly. This could be a match made in heaven.

With that off my chest, let’s talk about the actual news here.

Oneworld has lacked a Canadian partner since Air Canada swallowed up Canadian several years ago. With Air Canada in Star, there aren’t too many other options for a partner up north. It’s not a huge aviation market, but there is certainly a big hole without a Canadian partner. So for oneWORLD, going after wESTjET is a no-brainer.

On the westjet side, it’s a little more confusing. There is most certainly a great deal of traffic that can be routed to the airline through a global alliance. Also, the frequent flier program instantly becomes more attractive as a loyalty tool for Canadians who are looking for a solid alternative to Air Canada. But there are costs involved with joining an alliance, and that has generally kept low cost carriers out of them. The only low cost carrier in an alliance is US Airways, and they joined before they became a low cost carrier. Most LCCs have found that the increased costs and complexity of joining an alliance aren’t worth it.

So is WESTJET straying the wrong way or is this a great new idea? My initial thought is that it might work. If they really want to compete with AC, this is the way to do it. I’m just not sure that’s what their goal should be.

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