Southwest Airlines selling its first international flights

Bekah Wright

Aruba, The Bahamas, and Jamaica. These three sunny destinations just got added to Southwest Airlines’ routes. Indeed, the largest domestic carrier in the U.S. announced its first international flights today.

Daily nonstop flights will begin July 1 from Atlanta to Aruba and Montego Bay; Baltimore to Aruba and Nassau plus twice-daily flights to Montego Bay; and Saturday flights from Orlando to Aruba and Montego Bay.

The first phase of this international expansion plan includes the continuing integration of AirTran Airways, which Southwest bought in 2011, with flights between Atlanta and Nassau; Chicago Midway and Montego Bay; and flights to/from Cancun, Los Cabos, and Mexico City, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. By year’s end, Southwest plans to serve 96 destinations in six countries.

Today’s announcement follows Thursday’s earnings call where President and CEO Gary Kelly revealed a new reservation system being put into place. This is part of a preparation for international service that includes additional technologies, training, compliance, policies, operational and regulatory approvals.

Said Kelly in today’s press conference, "Southwest Airlines democratized the sky from our first flights more than four decades ago. 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."