Competition watchdog green-lights joint venture between WestJet and Delta

CALGARY — WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it is one step closer to a joint venture with Delta Air Lines after getting the green light from Canada’s competition watchdog.

The Calgary-based carrier says the Competition Bureau gave clearance in a letter stating it does not intend to challenge the proposed deal.

The transborder agreement announced last July would expand the two carriers’ codesharing agreement — where passengers can purchase seats from one airline on a flight operated by another. For WestJet, the joint venture would open up more of the southern U.S. and western European markets via Delta flights through airports in Atlanta and Barcelona.

Despite the Delta tie-up, luring passengers away from Air Canada could be difficult because WestJet isn’t part of a major airline alliance, such as Air Canada’s Star Alliance, SkyTeam or Oneworld.

The country’s largest carrier commands nearly a quarter of total capacity on flights between Canada and the United States, while WestJet and Delta have about one-fifth combined.

The would-be joint venture is still subject to regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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