Southwest spreads wings, partners with Mexican airline


Southwest Airlines, the busiest carrier at Tampa International Airport, will begin a codeshare partnership next year with Volaris, a low-cost Mexican carrier.

A codeshare agreement would enable each carrier to check in customers and baggage for transport to a passenger’s final destination, while the passenger would book a flight and pay for it with just one of the airlines, rather than two.

Volaris serves 23 cities in Mexico with Airbus A319s and A320s. The low-cost carrier founded in 2006 is expected to realize its ambitious expansion plans in the near future, with Dallas likely among its first U.S. destinations.

The codeshare agreement would enable passengers to book flights on Southwest from Tampa to Dallas, for example, and then on Volaris to a Mexican destination.

In the spring, Southwest plans to sell Volaris tickets on, even before connecting codeshare tickets are available for purchase.

By 2010, the airlines plan to announce codeshare flight schedules and additional features of the partnership.

Southwest announced a codeshare arrangement this year with the Canadian airline WestJet.

Airline analysts have long speculated that Southwest is considering expanding its routes beyond the continental United States, with codeshare arrangements another step in the airline’s evolution.