Southwest has finally loaded up international flights into their schedules. Starting 1 July 2014 you’ll be able to fly on a Southwest-operated flights to three international destinations – Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas and Aruba – from gateways in Orlando, Atlanta and BWI. The initial operations will have 44 weekly international flights on the schedule; AirTran will continue to operate the balance of the international schedule for the time being. The company expects to have all seven international operations served by the Southwest side by the end of 2014.
The bulk of the operations will be based at BWI initially. Four daily flights will run from the hub there, compared to the two daily at Atlanta and two weekly from Orlando (Saturday-only service). And then there’s the plans to start international service from Houston’s Hobby airport in 2015, a move which cross-town rival United Airlines opposed quite vigorously (and lost on).
Other routes which will eventually folded in under the Southwest banner include Chicago-Montego Bay, Atlanta-Nassau and flights to/from Cancun, Los Cabos, and Mexico City, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
The part where it has taken nearly four years since the merger was announced for the company to get their systems into a position where they can finally make these changes certainly must be frustrating to management and investors hoping to realize the benefits of integrating the operations. It seems that the initial over-water operations (SJU service launched in April 2013) was sufficiently successful that they’re now able to move forward. Slowly.
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