Southwest Airlines announces international flights

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines Co. is expanding beyond the continental United States with flights to the Caribbean beginning July 1.

The airline began selling tickets on Monday for flights to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica from Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando. Those routes are currently flown by AirTran Airways, which Southwest bought in 2011.

Southwest carries more passengers in the United States than any airline, but among the largest U.S. carriers, it alone doesn’t fly beyond the nation’s borders. Southwest has been talking about going international for years, but it’s been held back by technological limits to its reservations system, which it has been upgrading.

Later this year, Southwest is expected to take over four AirTran destinations in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It eventually plans to add international flights from Houston, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and possibly other U.S. cities, but executives said that they probably won’t announce details about those routes until 2015 or later.

AirTran’s international flights account for less than 1 percent of the parent company’s passenger-carrying capacity, and that won’t change with Monday’s announcement about some flights switching from AirTran planes to Southwest ones. Chief commercial officer Bob Jordan said, however, that international flying is “a big part of our growth strategy” and could someday involve 70 to 80 Southwest aircraft.

Dallas-based Southwest plans to phase out the AirTran brand by year end.

Shares of Southwest slipped 13 cents to $20.70 in afternoon trading. Most other airline stocks were also lower on a rise in oil prices.

More in Herald Business Journal

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Under cloud of ethics probes, Airbus CEO Enders to step down

He leaves in 2019 after 14 years. Meanwhile, aircraft division CEO Fabrice Bregier leaves in February.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Drone’s ease piercing of NY ‘no-fly’ zone underscores risks

An Army Black Hawk helicopter suffered damage to one of its rotor blades, but was able to land safely.

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

US prosecutors move to cash in on $8.5M in seized bitcoin

The bitcoin cache was worth less than $500,000 when a suspect was arrested on drug charges.

Disney buying large part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will spin off the Fox network, stations and cable channels.

Most Read