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US-Canada transborder: key airlines capitalise as their plans unfold

Although the Canada-US market is one of the more mature in the global aviation business, there are changes under way as WestJet and Delta move closer to solidifying their immunised joint venture and Air Canada and WestJet use their respective lower cost subsidiaries to provide better service to some US leisure markets.

US markets play a major role in the networks of Canada’s two largest airlines.

During 2018 Air Canada calculated that it had grown sixth freedom connecting traffic through its hubs by 15% year-on-year and the airline has worked with its various hub airports to make the transit process easier. Air Canada is also working to capitalise on opportunities on US leisure routes with mainline services and flights operated by its low cost subsidiary rouge.

At the end of 2018 WestJet and Delta declared that they were intending to increase their presence in the transborder market by 20% and to add six new markets between the US and Canada. The two airlines recently received approval from Canadian regulators for their proposed transborder JV; they are still waiting for an endorsement from US authorities. 

As the evolution of the market continues, the market will watch to see if Air Canada and United will answer WestJet's and Delta’s JV with their own similar partnership, and if start-up ultra low cost airlines can successfully execute a transborder strategy. 

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