Sear expects the process for regulatory approvals from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Justice and Canadian authorities to be complete by early 2019.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines had struck a deal in 2008 to partner with WestJet, but Southwest pulled out of the deal in 2010 due to differences over terms of the deal. The deal soured after Southwest said it was surprised to learn from media reports that WestJet was discussing a partnership with Delta.
While there are limits on cross-border airline mergers, joint ventures offer a way for airlines to broaden their international footprint. The deals can also reduce competition in international markets.
For WestJet, the tie-up is an opportunity to expand from its roots as a low-cost Canadian carrier into a larger airline with global reach.
Delta already has joint venture deals with other airlines around the world, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Korean Air, Aeromexico and Air France-KLM. It also has investments in some foreign carriers, including Brazilian carrier GOL and China Eastern, and joint venture partners Virgin Atlantic, Air France and Aeromexico.