Canada's WestJet to expand fleet by 2020

Delta Air Lines Airbus A319

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 members.

The deal with Atlanta-based Delta was announced as WestJet unveiled financial targets through 2020 that analyst Doug Taylor of Canaccord Genuity said "echo well-received guidance provided by Air Canada several months ago".

Delta Air Lines and WestJet have agreed to deepen their existing partnership by entering into a comprehensive transborder joint venture that will increase travel choices between the US and Canada.

The deal underscores Delta's ambitions to grow globally after years of post-bankruptcy consolidation, which has left Delta and three other large USA carriers in control of more than two-thirds of the domestic market.

WestJet, Canada's second-largest airline, now has 45 airline partners providing access to more than 175 destinations in more than 20 countries.

There was no mention about WestJet joining Skyteam, an alliance of 20 airlines including Aeroflot, Air France, China Airlines and KLM that operates more than 16,000 daily flights to 1,052 destinations.

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Coordinated flight schedules for new nonstop flights to new destinations, expanded codesharing, and seamless and convenient connections on the airlines' extensive networks in the USA and Canada.

Ahead of its investor day, the carrier laid out plans to save C$140 million ($110.6 million) to C$200 million in costs through 2022.

"We have been laying the foundation for this transition by investing in our network and schedule, while deepening our airline partnerships and broadening our fare products to not only defend and grow our leisure business but also to attract and retain premium travellers".

WestJet's decision preceded the launch of its new ultra-low-cost carrier, Swoop, which is expected to begin service next summer. Canada's second-biggest airline reports that it has purchased 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners due for delivery by January 2019.

"We remain concerned about execution with so many simultaneous initiatives under way, all in a climate of unease on the labor front", wrote AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray in a note to clients.

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