Delta Grows Canada Schedules In November As WestJet Partnership Looms

As Canada plans to reopen for nonessential leisure travelers from the United States on August 9th, Delta Air Lines is responding with capacity increases. Cautiously monitoring the environment, Delta is planning to grow flying from September on transborder routes with a 150% increase in available seats and going from eight daily flights to 19 daily flights between the US and Canada. This comes against the backdrop of Delta and WestJet figuring out what comes next for their partnership.

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Delta Air Lines is bringing back its Canada network this September. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Delta Air Lines grows its schedule to Canada

Starting this September, Delta Air Lines will be flying 19 daily flights between the US and Canada and adding over 1,000 seats in the market. Delta will offer flights to the following cities in Canada:

  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • Winnipeg (YWG)

Toronto will see the largest increase in flights, with 10 daily flights coming in September. This includes a new launch of four daily flights between LaGuardia (LGA) and Toronto.

Joe Esposito, SVP of Network Planning at Delta, stated the following on the network expansion:

“We’ve looked forward to the vital gateways between these two countries reopening and ensured that our customers have the choice and connectivity they need when booking their trips. As with everything Delta does, our customer-first approach is key to rebuilding the network and delivering a seamless travel experience with our global partners.”

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Some of Delta’s routes to Canada will fly onboard regional jets, like the CRJ900. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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The WestJet partnership

Against this route network expansion is the question of how Delta and WestJet will move forward. In 2018, Delta and WestJet announced plans to create a joint venture agreement covering routes between the United States and Canada. In late 2019, the joint venture was cleared by the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Then came 2020. While the pandemic wreaked havoc on both carriers, what was more damaging was the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). In the fall, the DOT ruled that WestJet and Delta would need to divest slots at LaGuardia to receive final joint venture approval. This proved to be too much of an ask, and the airlines announced they were abandoning their plans for a joint venture with a scathing rebuke of the DOT.

Since then, Delta and WestJet have instead worked to launch enhanced elite reciprocal loyalty benefits but cannot cooperate very deeply.

WestJet
Delta and WestJet were stung by the DOT’s decision to mandate slot divestitures at LaGuardia to receive approval for the joint venture. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Delta’s customers can access more destinations in Canada thanks to the WestJet partnership. This includes flights to secondary destinations like Halifax, Kelowna, Charlottetown, and others. These may require a connection in a city like Toronto or Calgary.

Will Delta and WestJet move for a joint venture again?

Delta and WestJet have not formally announced if they will reapply for a joint venture under the new administration. FlightGlobal reports that WestJet CEO Ed Sims commented at a webinar sponsored by the International Aviation Club of Washington on plans to continue pushing for a joint venture.

Delta
Delta and WestJet sought a joint venture to effectively counter the Air Canada-United alliance that has a large share of the transborder market. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Delta and WestJet’s joint venture was designed to combat the Air Canada-United transborder partnership that gives both airlines the dominant position in the market. American Airlines does not currently have a transborder partner. Air Canada already announced a huge transborder schedule from August.

As of now, any potential joint venture remains a point of speculation. Delta and WestJet could decide to wait for a bit before refiling, or they could try to move ahead sooner to gain a leg up heading into the full recovery of the transborder market.

Nevertheless, Delta is bringing back its Canada network. Starting this September, the airline will be flying more flights and utilizing larger aircraft on flights to Canada to capture demand for transborder travel. This is traditionally a very large market and relies on leisure and business travelers alike.

Are you going to fly Delta to Canada this fall? Let us know in the comments!

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