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Is Southwest looking to change course and partner with other airlines?

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Is Southwest Airlines about to form alliances or partnerships with other carriers for the first time in recent decades? A new job posting suggests that might be on the table.


The airline posted a new opening for a senior manager of “airline partnerships” role based out of its Dallas headquarters.


Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research, first spotted the listing. It wasn’t immediately clear when the job was first posted.


In the posting, the carrier suggests it’s looking to initiate partnerships with other airlines, including interline and codeshare agreements, with the goal of “deliver[ing] incremental revenue to Southwest and enhance Southwest’s Customer proposition while aligning with Southwest’s Commercial priorities.”


The manager in the new role would “[m]anage the development, communication, and execution of Southwest’s entry into airline partnerships and develop and maintain relationships with potential partner carriers so that Southwest can successfully launch and build strong partnerships,” according to the job summary.


“Collaborate across both Commercial and Operational Divisions to ensure smooth entry and implementation of agreements and working with partner carriers to ensure a smooth journey for all Customers,” the summary reads.


The listing did not give a timeline for any potential partnerships, and Southwest declined to comment when TPG reached out.


It’s not clear what potential partnerships might look like. This movement could involve interlining with foreign carriers to enable Southwest to serve connecting passengers from abroad; it could also involve partnering with another U.S. airline, similar to the Northeast Alliance between American Airlines and JetBlue. It could also mean something else entirely.


One potential option could be a joint venture like the one between Allegiant and Mexican low-cost airline Viva Aerobus, in which the airlines essentially distribute each other’s flights but don’t offer connecting or overlapping flights on any routes.


Such a partnership could also help Southwest begin to effectively sell tickets to foreign-originating travelers; thus far, the airline has been unable to make sales in a foreign currency. For instance, Southwest can’t profitably serve an international market like Canada without accepting ticket purchases in Canadian dollars.


This job posting suggests Southwest is serious about the prospect of partnering with other airlines, but it’s likely still early in the process.


This article originally appeared in The Points Guy


Photo: David Slotnick/The Points Guy

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