On November 6, Southwest Airlines (SWA) began operating daily service from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Providenciales International Airport (PLS) in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Turks and Caicos is Southwest’s 11th country served.
Southwest also began new service between FLL and both Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, Costa Rica (SJO) and Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This gives customers nonstop access from FLL to 10 destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Three new routes bring Southwest’s needed value for Floridians hoping to hit the beach in Provo’s world-famous Grace Bay, hike up the crater at Poas volcano near Costa Rica’s capital city, or have a carefree weekend in a resort in Punta Cana,” said Steve Goldberg, Southwest’s Senior Vice President of Operations & Hospitality and Executive Sponsor of Florida. “With convenient connections for Orlando, Tampa, and dozens of cities across our domestic network, these international destinations are now reachable on Southwest where there are no change fees and bags fly free.”
“We are excited about this new stage in the growth of Southwest and Costa Rica, our mission is to continue offering an affordable option for Customers and Passengers to travel to and from Costa Rica and our destinations in the Caribbean, as well as connect travelers with our vast network of destinations”, said Manuel De Oyarzabal Castellanos, Strategic Planning Executive for Southwest Airlines. “Our goal is to offer unparalleled Customer Service, fair and transparent rates, plus 2 free documented bags, which are the main qualities that have made Southwest a friendly airline.”
“The Southwest flight that we are inaugurating from Fort Lauderdale, becomes one more connection from our main tourist issuing market, such as the United States, articulating with a new route this important city and other connections with the Juan Santa María airport. It is important to remember that Florida is among our best prospects within the United States territory,” added Hermes Navarro del Valle, Coordinator of Attraction of ICT investments. “This will definitely promote an increase in arrivals of this market for the entire national territory. We are very pleased that we are already seeing an increase in routes from that country, which we hope will continue over the next few years. Southwest becomes one of the companies that most bets on Costa Rica, what motivates us to continue advancing in the promotion of our country, thanks to the strategy of attracting airlines.”
Flights to PLS are currently available for $69 one way ($145 return), while seats to PUJ start at $132 ($171 return). Additional Southwest destinations from FLL this winter include Belize ($69 one way), the Cayman Islands ($59 one way), the Bahamas ($69 one way), and Cancún ($92 one way).
“We’re investing in the Caribbean with an optimistic outlook on travel and tourism as our Hearts remain with those still facing significant challenges,” Goldberg added in reference to recent hurricanes in Latin America, after which Southwest coordinated with government officials to operate two dozen unscheduled flights to Puerto Rico in support of relief efforts by transporting people and much-needed supplies. “While a courageous recovery continues, the best thing many can do now is simply take a vacation, make a business trip, and contribute to a greater awareness that the Caribbean is back in business.”
In a partnership with Broward County, Southwest is expanding Terminal 1 at FLL with additional gates, security screenings, concessions, and border processing capacity. These amenities are vital to FLL’s survival as a major airport since Southwest launched international service from FLL in June of this year.
“We’ve been building up Fort Lauderdale (as an international hub) so we have connections from 24 cities that will get people to Turks and Caicos,” said Steven Swan, Southwest’s director of international planning and airline partnerships.
Southwest is planning additional extensions to its flight schedule through early August 2018. The carrier plans to fly between Houston and Grand Cayman on Saturdays next summer. Southwest will also increase summer 2018 service to Puerto Rico, with flights between San Juan and Chicago Midway, which had previously only operated on weekends, as well as augmented daily seasonal service between San Juan and Houston Hobby.
Southwest will also fly between Cancún and Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham on Saturdays starting on June 9, 2018, subject to government approval. If approval is given, Southwest’s 2018 summer schedule will be its largest ever for the Mexican city with nonstop service from 16 gateway US airports, peaking at 27 departures to Cancún on Saturdays.
Southwest operates more than 4,000 weekday departures across a network of 100 destinations in the United States and 11 foreign countries. Southwest serves over 115 million passengers annually.
Featured image by Ken Lund via Flickr