Southwest Airlines said on Monday it will launch international flights in July. The first flights outside the United States will be to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica.
Southwest Airlines is already offering flights to Mexico and the Caribbean through AirTran, which was acquired in 2011. Southwest Airlines said a new booking system is available for international flights.
On July 1, Southwest Airlines will have flight available to Atlanta and Aruba and Montego Bay, Jamaica; between Baltimore/ Washington and Aruba, Nassau and Montego Bay; and between Orlando and Aruba and Montego Bay.
According to executive Gary Kelly, by the end of the year all AirTran flights will be converted to Southwest Airlines. International flights are a great opportunity for Southwest Airlines at this time, because of the unprofitable markets and the retiring of older aircraft to reduce maintenance costs.
Southwest Airlines said, “the company’s yields, a measure of the average fare on international routes were about 40 percent higher than those on domestic flights.”
Kelly added, “Southwest would not likely add new international cities this year beyond the areas served by AirTran. He said Southwest was not currently planning to add bigger aircraft. It currently operates Boeing 737s.”
Robert Jordan, chief commercial officer said, “Southwest was looking at a pretty robust number of new cities it could fly to over the next few years. Southwest is spending more than $100 million at Houston’s William Hobby Airport to install gates and a customs facility as it looks to add flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America in 2015.”
Jordan added, “we’re going to look at routes that our customers desire, look at routes that are over-fared and there are plenty of over-fared routes both north and south.”