Southwest Airlines is on its way to international destinations thanks to the big boost received by the Houston City council which last night voted 16-1 to approve an expansion of Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
Southwest: International Flights on AirTran for Now
Southwest currently operates no international flights, but AirTran – which Southwest acquired back in the fall of 2010 – does offer flights to Mexico and the Caribbean from Atlanta, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Presumably, these international departure points might expand to include Houston as the on-going consolidation process of AirTran into the Southwest brand continues over the next few years. Southwest expects to begin international flights out of Hobby by 2015.
FareCompare has contacted a Southwest spokesman about the carrier’s wish list of new international destinations and will update with this information when we receive it. Although not an international destination, it is well-known that Southwest has set its sights on Hawaii as a future go-to destination.
UPDATE: According to Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins who spoke with FareCompare by phone, there are no new international destinations to report just yet, but the carrier’s CEO has said regions “of interest” include Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean and North and South America, and that remains the case.
$100 Million for Southwest’s Hobby Expansion
According to media reports, Southwest plans to pour $100 million into improvement and expansion work at Hobby – which, until now, has only offered domestic flights. Houstonians who wish to travel beyond U.S. borders are served by Houston’s other airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
Southwest is currently the dominant presence at Hobby with more than 130 daily departures from the airport. The carrier’s CEO, Gary Kelly, has indicated Southwest will add at least another 20 flights with more to come.