Southwest Airlines® (NYSE: LUV) filed applications today with the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting approval to serve six destinations in Latin America with new, daily, nonstop service from William P. Hobby Airport in Houston. After receiving U.S. government approval of the new service, Southwest will begin selling these flights at Southwest.com, offering Customers nonstop options between Houston (Hobby) and four destinations in Mexico—Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos—as well as flights to San Jose, Costa Rica, and Belize City, Belize. Service to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City, Belize, adds a second destination in Central America, a seventh country, and the 96th city on the Southwest route map.
The new Houston flights will be made possible by the completion of an estimated $156 million five-gate international concourse now under construction at Hobby. The completed project will increase capacity for all airport functions and add a Federal Inspections Services (FIS) facility to streamline U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening and baggage processing for arriving international passengers.
"We're building our first-ever international terminal project to give Houstonians, visitors to Houston, and our connecting Customers exceptional value and legendary Customer Service in international markets for which there is great demand," said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, and CEO. "Service to Mexico will be the cornerstone of our international operation at Hobby and the four cities we are announcing today provide exciting travel and business options for consumers. Adding Belize to the Southwest network and growing our Costa Rica service continues our expansion to international destinations where our People and consumer-friendly policies can deliver as no other airline can."
The Houston Hobby International Terminal Project will add five new gates, enabling scheduled international service from Hobby. Southwest is working in conjunction with the City of Houston, which is preparing for the new facility with surrounding infrastructure improvements including a new parking facility, central utility plant and roadway improvements throughout the Houston Hobby Airport district. A study conducted by Houston Airport System estimates the Houston Hobby International Terminal Project would add 10,000 jobs to the region and provide a $1.6 billion impact annually to the local economy. The study also expects the expanded facility to bring an additional 1.6 million air travelers each year.
Southwest is currently selling nonstop service on Saturdays between Houston (Hobby) and Queen Beatrix International Airport in Oranjestad, Aruba beginning March 7, 2015. The Aruba flights are made possible by U.S. CBP Pre-clearance procedures, which provide U.S. border inspection in certain foreign countries including Aruba. This will allow Southwest Customers arriving at Hobby Airport from Aruba to deplane without further CBP inspections into the domestic terminal, quickly claim baggage and depart the airport, or make seamless connections to many of the more than 40 domestic destinations Southwest currently serves nonstop from Houston (Hobby).
One of Southwest Airlines' original cities, Houston supports the fifth busiest operation in the carrier's network of more than 90 airports across six countries, with approximately 150 departures a day from Houston (Hobby). More than 3,200 Southwest Employees are Houston-based and foster community and business partnerships across greater Houston that, in 2013 alone, bolstered nearly 170 nonprofit organizations with more than $900,000 in local charitable donations. Read more about Southwest Airlines' commitment to the communities of Houston at www.swamedia.com.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 44th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest and wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways operate more than 3,400 flights a day, serving 93 destinations across the United States and five additional countries. Subject to government approvals, Southwest service to San Jose, Costa Rica (from Baltimore/Washington), begins in March 2015; service to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (from Orange County/Santa Ana), begins in June 2015; and service to Belize City begins in October 2015 (from Houston (Hobby)).
Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate to gate connectivity while over the United States. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to access streaming music provided by Beats Music or to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of DISH. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer Bags Fly Free® (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply), and there are never change fees, although fare differences might apply. In September 2014, the airline proudly unveiled Heart, a new aircraft livery, airport experience, and logo, showcasing the dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what's important in their lives.
From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves. With 41 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2013 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at Southwest.com/citizenship.
Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.
SOURCE Southwest Airlines