The two Star Alliance carriers have long been partners, notably as part of an antitrust-immunized joint business agreement that also includes Lufthansa focused on transatlantic flying. In a joint statement, Air Canada and United noted their longstanding ties and said they now will coordinate transborder networks and schedules, and share revenue on transborder flights.
Regarding expanded codesharing, the airlines said they “anticipate customers will be able to connect to 46 transborder codeshare destinations with more than 400 daily frequencies in 2022, with opportunities to add more codeshare destinations for domestic routes within Canada and the US.”
Codeshare destinations will include 38 in the US and eight in Canada.
In a letter sent to United last week, the US Transportation Department (DOT) said it would approve the expanded agreement between the North American airlines for five years, at which point it would have to be renewed.
DOT said the airlines asserted that “a new cooperative structure would allow the parties to accelerate the return of transborder services” and “incentivize more coordinated network planning, enhance network optimization, and provide steps to reduce inefficiencies which would translate into consumer benefits.”
DOT added: “In adjudicating the request, DOT recognized the distressed conditions of the transborder market and believes that the revised structure of the parties' joint venture is likely to provide benefits above and beyond the status quo in the current environment.”
Air Canada senior VP-network planning and revenue management Mark Galardo said the agreement with United will “significantly expand our well-established partnership to further enhance the customer journey between Canada and the US by offering more choice, greater convenience and an improved airport experience," adding: “This agreement marks a new phase in our evolving relationship that will speed the recovery from the pandemic and strengthen both carriers. It will also enable us to optimize our hubs and schedules and to broaden our global network connectivity to maintain our leadership in the market."
United senior VP of global network planning and alliances Patrick Quayle said: "As international travel continues to recover, this expanded partnership will provide an enhanced experience for all transborder travel.”
The carriers noted that the Canada-US transborder market “was the second largest international passenger air transportation market in the world and the largest international market for both Canada and the US, as measured by seats.”
The airlines did not give a specific start date for the enhanced transborder operation to go into effect.
Delta Air Lines and WestJet, Canada’s second largest airline, operate a similar transborder joint business.