Waltzing Matilda Aviation (MW, New Bedford), the production carrier for the scheduled startup Connect Airlines brand, has signed an interline agreement with American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth), with plans for a codeshare partnership when flights begin in early 4Q21.

Details to this effect were reportedly revealed in an updated regulatory filing by the US Department of Transportation on August 26, but the relevant sections have since been redacted following a motion by WMA to withhold information from public disclosure for competitive purposes.

WMA chief executive John Thomas was not immediately available for comment.

American Airlines said the agreement with WMA was part of its “continued effort to build the biggest and best network.” “Our interline partnership is still in its developmental stages, and we look forward to providing more options for customers to travel from Toronto City Centre,” spokesman Jermaine Spight told The Dallas Morning News.

Several local news reports said the interline agreement with American was signed in March 2021 but the carriers expected to negotiate a codeshare agreement with mileage benefits before Connect started flying.

According to the filing, the launch date is slated for October 1 pending the finalisation of the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Operating Specifications, expected to be granted on September 29 following final proving flights on September 27. However, Thomas told Airline Weekly the launch date would probably be closer to year-end, citing regulatory delays and other variables for the timeline.

As previously reported, subject to regulatory approvals from both the US and Canada, WMA plans to start operating scheduled service under the Connect Airlines brand from Philadelphia Int'l and Chicago O'Hare into Toronto City Centre, an airport in the heart of the fourth largest airline market in North America. US domestic routes appear to be on the radar now too, according to the latest filing. The carrier plans to use two DHC-8-Q400s leased from Chorus Aviation. The leases were to be finalised in the week of July 26 and the De Havilland Aircraft of Canada turboprops are expected to arrive in mid-September, Thomas said. The airline has a letter of intent with another lessor for three more Dash 8s due in the first half of 2022.

Both Chicago O’Hare and Philadelphia are large American Airline hubs. “Our view is how do we give people in Toronto more than just a flight to Chicago — or some point in the US — how do we make this a one-stop connection into a massive network,” Thomas told Airline Weekly. “It gives us “a much stronger value proposition to people in Toronto.”

Reports said the tie-up fitted American’s aggressive strategy to find partners for gaps in its network. Earlier this year, the Dallas/Fort Worth based carrier joined forces with Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma Int'l) on the West Coast and JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) in the Northeast in an effort to boost its competitive position. In South America, it recently unveiled a new equity partnership with Chile’s JetSMART (JA, Santiago de Chile Int'l).

Connect is the latest in a slew of US startup airlines. Avelo Airlines (XP, Burbank) led by former Allegiant Air and United Airlines executive Andrew Levy launched in April and Breeze Airways (MX, Salt Lake City) led by serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman began flights in May.