Southwest announced that it will not go forward with its planned codeshare pact with Canada’s WestJet. Officially the announcement is to delay the codeshare, which would have given Southwest entry into Canada and WestJet a huge feeder network from the US. But when asked when passengers can expect the codeshare to be implemented, Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said, “How does never sound to you? Does never sound good?” (She didn’t actually say that, but she basically did.)
WestJet was deeply disappointed by the decision, which could have been a significant source of traffic for the airline.
Southwest, for its part, said that it needs to focus “its immediate attention on several critical objectives, including increasing our revenues,” which is exactly what you want to hear if you’re a shareholder. After 35 years of slow, steady growth, Southwest has struggled in a way it never has before. It’s hardly in trouble, but Southwest has always ridden out economic storms by keeping to its strategy of managable growth and keeping the operations as simple as possible. Over the past year the airline has focused on bringing service to primary airports (LaGuardia, Boston), while changing up its fare structure to attract more business travelers. These are certainly good long-term moves, but these types of changes can be rocky in the short-term. Cutting off the WestJet partnership isn’t a huge deal, but its an indication that the company realizes it needs to focus on its core operation — a great decision and one that shows management realizes that Southwest may be starting to veer slightly off the course that has served it so well. Great management is about understanding when things start to go wrong and quickly making adjustments. Well done, Southwest.