You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

US signs off on Delta and WestJet partnership, if they give up LaGuardia slots

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 10/23/2020 Edward Russell
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway © Provided by The Points Guy
MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

U.S. officials have signed off on a long-planned partnership between Delta Air Lines and WestJet on flights between the U.S. and Canada.

Two years after the airlines applied for government approval, the Department of Transportation OK’d the pact with minimal conditions on Friday. Delta and WestJet must divest eight slot pairs — one slot is needed for either a takeoff or landing — at New York LaGuardia (LGA) and exclude the latter’s budget arm Swoop from the joint venture to move forward.

Travelers would benefit from a more seamless travel experience when flying Delta and WestJet under the partnership. DOT approval allows the airlines to coordinate schedules and fares, as well as work more closely together on everything from sharing reservations to data to sharing airport lounges and gates.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

Together, Delta and WestJet carried 28% of the 31.5 million flyers between the U.S. and Canada in 2019, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data via Cirium. This is second only to Air Canada’s 44% share of the market.

Delta and WestJet have argued that the joint venture will allow them to better compete with Air Canada. This includes the addition of at least six new transborder routes, according to their initial 2018 application.

Conditions for a new joint venture are common. Delta and Aeromexico had to give up slots in both Mexico City (MEX) and New York JFK when their partnership was approved in 2016.

Related: WestJet Dash 8s Could Soon Take Over These Delta Routes to Canada


Video: Southwest Airlines to stop blocking middle seats starting in December (NBC News)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines called for the divestiture of eight LaGuardia slot pairs as a condition to the Delta-WestJet pact. Both carriers argued that without forcing them to give up the rights, the slots would effectively end up back in Delta’s hands after the airline divested them as part of its LaGuardia slot-swap with US Airways in 2011.

The DOT proposes a blind auction to sell eight slot pairs from either Delta or WestJet in one package to an “eligible carrier.” While it does not define “eligible,” past processes have limited this to airlines with a small or no presence at LaGuardia. The auction will occur within eight weeks of final sign off, or likely sometime early in 2021.

WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart told TPG that the airlines’ “welcome” the DOT’s decision and are “reviewing” the conditions.

Canada approved the Delta-WestJet pact in June 2019.

Related: Southwest Airlines wants WestJet to give up New York slots under Delta pact

The pact could prove something of a lifeline for WestJet. The airline has been hit hard by Canada’s travel restrictions that have kept much of its fleet grounded since the coronavirus pandemic hit North America early in the year.

Earlier in October, WestJet announced that it would end service to five cities in eastern Canada. The move will leave competitor Air Canada as the only network carrier serving four of them.

A Delta spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the DOT’s decision.

Related: WestJet cuts 5 cities in eastern Canada, blames coronavirus and fee increases

Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

--

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From The Points Guy

The Points Guy
The Points Guy
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon