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Confusion over secret fares prompts WestJet to sever ties with Hopper app

A WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 (737-700) jetliner takes off in Calgary, Alta., May 22, 2017.
A WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 (737-700) jetliner takes off in Calgary, Alta., May 22, 2017. Larry MacDougal / File / The Canadian Press

WestJet Airlines said it is severing ties with airfare finder app Hopper due to confusion over the developer’s announcement the airline would offer “secret fares” on its app.

Montreal-based Hopper announced Wednesday that WestJet and Air Canada were among its first global partners to unload some of their seats via “secret fares” at discounts of up to 35 per cent.

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But both airlines have disputed the claim that they would offer secret fares with Hopper and said they were offering the same discounts available to their travel agencies partners.

“Due to the confusion this has created in the marketplace, WestJet is severing ties with Hopper,” company spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said late Thursday.

WestJet said Hopper will still be able to sell the company’s published fares, comparable to those available on its website, but that it will no longer provide the private, discounted fares it offers to travel agents and other partners.

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Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Thursday the airline doesn’t offer fares with Hopper that are not provided to its other partners.

“From time-to-time we offer tactical fares on select markets to travel partners in the normal course of business and to remain competitive,” he said, adding that such fares offered by Hopper were not available in Canada.

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The company did not say whether it would end its partnership with the app developer along with its rival.

In its release Wednesday, Hopper said other “secret fare” airline partners include LATAM, Turkish, Copa and Air China, adding they will be joined by other carriers in the coming weeks.

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But the company clarified Thursday night that its “secret fares” were a “Hopper-specific marketing strategy and not a unique class of airfare.”

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“Airlines offer distinct fares to specific types of agencies, in our case online travel agencies, and they are marketed under a range of different brand names,” Hopper spokeswoman Brianna Schneider said in an email. “We are currently contacting relevant parties to clear up any confusion.”

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