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Want to Get Away - Eh? Southwest Airlines to Offer International Service via Pact With Canadian Carrier WestJet, Service Scheduled for Late 2009

Southwest Airlines and WestJet Take First Step Toward Codeshare Partnership, Opening a New Gateway Between United States and Canada

DALLAS, July 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southwest Airlines today announced its intention to build a codeshare partnership with Canadian carrier WestJet. The two airlines have completed the first step in creating a relationship that will eventually allow the carriers to offer Customers a seamless travel experience to a wide array of destinations. This initial agreement puts the two airlines on a path toward bringing more low fares and a better Customer experience across the U.S./Canadian border. The airlines plan to announce codeshare flight schedules and additional features regarding the partnership by late 2009. Certain details of the codeshare and elements of the partnership are subject to approvals by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

"A company's dedication to Culture and Customer Service are very high on our priority list when considering a relationship of any kind," said Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly. "We are confident that we've found a perfect fit with WestJet, and we are excited to work toward opening our expansive U.S. network to include Canadian destinations."

WestJet was founded in 1996 as a western Canadian regional carrier with three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, WestJet is Canada's leading high-value, low-fare airline, offering scheduled service to 49 destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The airline operates a fleet of 75 Boeing Next-Generation 737-series aircraft.

"This is a defining moment for WestJet. Clearly, we are delivering on our strategic plan with this announcement today. It marks an important step forward for our guests and their ability to fly to more destinations in the United States conveniently and cost effectively," said WestJet President and CEO Sean Durfy. "When you examine our network in Canada and Southwest's network in the United States, and the potential to significantly improve both organization's market access, this is indeed a great day."

The airlines are not ready to announce routes, schedules, or fares at this point, but the agreement will eventually allow each carrier to check both Customers and baggage to a passenger's final destination. The codeshare partnership is intended to provide convenient, viable connecting schedules. In addition, southwest.com will soon become a distribution channel for WestJet's existing Canadian and transborder flights, providing Customers the opportunity to purchase WestJet's existing flights via southwest.com (this option will be online before actual connecting codeshare flights are available for purchase). Other items that are on the list of things to consider include an integration of each carrier's frequent flier program, ground handling opportunities, and a possible extension of the carriers' cargo products.

"We are quickly moving forward with our plans to enter the international market with WestJet, an airline partner that we hold in high esteem," Kelly said. "We have a very talented group of Employees who will continue to work diligently over the next year to develop and deliver a superior international codeshare product into the marketplace."

"It is an honour to partner with one of the great airline success stories of the world," Durfy said. "The effort put forth by Gary Kelly and his management team to negotiate this relationship is most appreciated and I look forward to building a great bond with Southwest. Together we will demonstrate that low-cost, high-value airlines represent the future success of air travel."

About Southwest Airlines

After 37 years of service, Southwest Airlines, the nation's leading low-fare carrier, continues to stand above other airlines -- offering a reliable product with exemplary Customer Service. Southwest Airlines is the most productive airline in the sky and offers Customers a comfortable traveling experience with all premium leather seats and plenty of legroom. Southwest recently updated its gate areas and improved its boarding procedure to make flying Southwest Airlines even more convenient and simple. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, currently serves 64 cities in 32 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,400 flights a day and has more than 34,000 Employees systemwide.

About WestJet

WestJet is Canada's leading high-value low-cost airline offering scheduled service throughout its 49-city North American (including Hawaii), Mexico and Caribbean network. Named Canada's most admired corporate culture in 2005, 2006, and 2007, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. WestJet offers increased legroom and leather seats on its modern fleet of 75 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, and live seatback television provided by Bell ExpressVu. With future confirmed deliveries for an additional 46 aircraft, bringing its fleet to 121 by 2013, WestJet strives to be the number one choice for travellers.

This news release contains forward-looking statements related to Southwest's intention to offer international service through an alliance with WestJet. Specific statements relate to the anticipated impact of such alliance on Southwest's routes, fares, and Customer experience. These forward-looking statements are based on Southwest's current intent, beliefs, and expectations and are not guarantees of future results. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) the companies' ability to negotiate mutually agreeable codeshare terms and their receipt of necessary governmental approvals, (ii) consumer interest in, and demand for, the combined offering; (iii) the impact of competitive offerings; and (iv) economic and related uncertainties that could impact the ability of the two companies to fully implement all of the initiatives currently contemplated by their alliance.

http://www.southwest.com

SOURCE
Southwest Airlines

CONTACT:
Southwest Airlines Media Contact, +1-214-792-4847; or Gillian Bentley of 888-WJ 4 NEWS, 1-888-954-6397, gbentley@westjet.com, for WestJet

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