Flyin' High

Southwest Airlines adds international flights in time for summer vacations

Southwest adds international flights in time for summer vacations

Southwest Airlines airplane jet flying
Southwest Airlines announced Monday it is expanding service to include three international destinations, starting July 1. Photo by Dylan Ashe/Wikipedia

Southwest Airlines is now selling seats on new international flights to several Caribbean destinations — Aruba, Bahamas and Jamaica — a first for the Dallas-based carrier. Beginning July 1, Southwest will begin nonstop service from Atlanta to Aruba and Montego Bay; from Baltimore/Washington to Aruba, Nassau and Montego Bay; and from Orlando to Aruba and Montego Bay.

This is the first phase of the company’s international conversion plan with wholly owned subsidiary AirTrain. By the end of the year, the airline will launch Southwest service in the remaining four international destinations in its network.

“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,” said chairman and CEO Gary Kelly in a statement.

In Houston, a new $156 million five-gate international terminal financed by Southwest is currently being built at William P. Hobby Airport. When it is completed in late 2015, the facility will be home to Southwest’s foray into Latin America and the Caribbean from Houston.

Southwest also plans to expand domestic service from Love Field in October, when the Wright Amendment is lifted. No word yet on what international flights may depart from Dallas, as the Boeing 737’s that Southwest operates are limited to flying 3,115 nautical miles without refueling.

Southwest executive vice president and CCO Bob Jordan told the Houston Business Journal the only thing preventing the airline from adding more international flights is how far the Boeing 737’s can fly.