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WestJet builds British relationship

Airlines ink code-share agreement
A WestJet 737 approaches the runway at Calgary International Airport.

WestJet Air-lines Ltd. has added British Airways as its eighth codeshare partner, enabling the U.K. carrier to sell seats on the Canadian airline's planes starting Monday.

The agreement, which builds on a previous deal between the two carriers to collaborate on baggage handling and other tasks, is meant to draw more inter-national travellers into WestJet's network.

"The launch of this new code-share represents another strategically significant milestone for WestJet," said WestJet executive vicepresident Bob Cummings.

"We remain committed to bringing top-quality airlines on board as part of our airline partnership strategy. The success of this strategy has contributed to the strong results we've seen so far this year."

Code-share deals allow airlines to sell seats on oneanother's planes using the same two-digit code. In this case, the "BA" code will be used when travellers on British Airways flights to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto connect to WestJetoperated flights to Ottawa, Edmonton and Victoria.

"Our partnership with WestJet is great news for our customers. It will enable easier travel from Canada's gateway cities to destinations that have been more difficult to access from the U.K," said Lynne Embleton, British Airways' director of strategy and business units.

WestJet's fleet currently consists only of Boeing 737s, which don't have the range for overseas flights, so partnerships like the one with British Airways are a key way for the company to expand its market reach.

Over the past year, WestJet has signed code-share deals with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, Delta Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM and Korean Air. It also has 20 interline deals - less integrated partnerships that involve working together on baggage handling and ticketing. Interline deals often pave the way for code shares.

WestJet is also working to expand its presence in smaller markets, with plans to launch a regional service next year using Bombardier Q400 propeller aircraft.