Kelly 'Not Confident' On SWA-AirTran Codeshare Timing

They've been merged since May, but it might take until mid-2012 before AirTran and Southwest can implement a code share. The reason? Reservations technology. [more]

"We'll be in a position in the first half next year where we can operationally codeshare between the two airlines," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said last Thursday during the carrier's earnings call. "As you well understand, [AirTran has its] own reservations systems and operations systems, so we'll be able to publish in a codeshare-like fashion common itineraries where you'll have a Southwest leg and an AirTran leg."

Kelly previously noted that implementing a new reservations system at Southwest would enable comprehensive codesharing. However, the selection and implementation of the new system has been delayed. Meanwhile, AirTran several years ago had expected the deployment of Navitaire's New Skies reservations system to enable codeshare relationships, but it would appear that functionality has not been realized.

"We don't have classic codeshare technology in our system," Kelly said. "Importantly, neither does AirTran."

While AirTran previously had what a Southwest spokeswoman in an e-mail called a "partnership" with SkyWest, "It was not a classic 'codeshare,' in the technical sense of the word," she added.

Meanwhile, though Southwest successfully implemented a codeshare scheme with the now-defunct ATA Airlines, Kelly on Thursday explained that "the technology that we used with ATA is not necessarily usable again with AirTran, but in any event, with our current reservations technology and theirs, that has to be built and that construction's underway."

That may take at least until the middle of next year. "We're not confident enough to give you a pinpoint date yet," Kelly said. "We want it sooner than later."