Southwest Airlines, which carries more domestic passengers in the U.S. than any other airline, has begun selling seats on its first-ever scheduled international flights.
On July 1, Southwest Airlines will begin operating daily, non-stop flights linking Atlanta with Aruba and Montego Bay; Baltimore/Washington International Airport with Aruba, Nassau, and (twice daily) Montego Bay; and Orlando with Aruba (on Saturdays only) and Montego Bay.
Nassau is on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas and Montego Bay is in Jamaica. Aruba is a resort island in the Netherland Antilles group in the southern Caribbean, off the coast of southern Venezuela. It is officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In this first phase of Southwest’s international conversion plan, wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways will continue service between Atlanta and Nassau, and between Chicago Midway and Montego Bay.
AirTran Airways will also continue to operate flights to and from Cancun, Los Cabos, and Mexico City in Mexico; and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
By the end of 2014, Southwest Airlines plans to complete the launch of its own service to the remaining four international destinations on the Southwest/AirTran network route map of 96 destinations in six countries.
Both carriers’ full flight schedules are now open for booking through August 8.
The make-ready process for international service has involved nearly all of Southwest’s 45,000 employees to implement additional technologies, training, and compliance, to obtain operational and regulatory approvals, and to ready Southwest’s people, planes, and policies to serve customers in new countries.
“Southwest Airlines democratized the sky from our first flights more than four decades ago,” says Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ chairman, president and CEO. “Today’s milestone enables us to reach new territory, new customers, and build upon a four decade foundation of doing right by the travelers who trust our value and our people.”
Dallas-based Southwest acquired AirTran Airways in May 2011 and intends to complete the full integration of AirTran’s network into Southwest’s own by the end of 2014. Southwest has achieved 41 consecutive years of profitability and now operates nearly 3,200 flights a day.