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Southwest Airlines hooks up with Canada's WestJet

Southwest Airlines and Canada’s WestJet Airlines agreed Tuesday to create a marketing and sales alliance by late 2009, giving each carrier access to routes outside their domestic markets.

The partnership is the first so-called codeshare agreement outside the U.S. for Southwest, the largest low-fare carrier. Southwest and WestJet would be able to sell tickets on each other’s flights, the companies said in statements.

The deal would assist Calgary-based WestJet in its goal of expanding its route network in the U.S.

Dallas-based Southwest, which only flies in the lower 48 states, would be able to book customers onto flights to WestJet destinations in Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean and accommodate travelers planning ski trips in Canada through Calgary or Vancouver.

“This is a defining moment for WestJet,” Sean Durfy, WestJet president and chief executive, said in the statement “We are delivering on our strategic plan with this announcement today.”