Southwest to offer more international flights through AirTran

Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:01pm GMT

A Southwest Airlines 737-700 takes off from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A Southwest Airlines 737-700 takes off from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California April 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) plans to offer more international service next year through its AirTran subsidiary, an executive said on Sunday.

AirTran will seek government approval to expand international service with four new nonstop routes to Mexico in summer 2012. The planned routes are San Antonio, Texas, to Mexico City and Cancun starting in May 2012; and Orange County, California, to Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City beginning in June.

"I think this is the first of several announcements of new international service," Bob Jordan, Southwest chief commercial officer and AirTran Airways president, said on a phone briefing with reporters. He declined to comment on other new international cities the carrier was considering.

"We would not be doing this (new international service) if the financial opportunity didn't look really promising," Jordan added.

AirTran currently offers international flights to destinations such as Aruba, Bermuda and the Bahamas. The carrier does not currently serve Orange County, California.

Southwest acquired AirTran earlier this year, gaining access to U.S. markets it did not previously do business in such as Atlanta.

Last week, Southwest said AirTran would halt operations next year at U.S. airports in Knoxville, Tennessee; Miami International; Central Illinois Regional Airport/Bloomington/Normal, Illinois; Charleston's Yeager Airport in West Virginia; and Dulles International near Washington, D.C. Southwest operations at Dulles will continue unaffected.

AirTran cited high fuel prices in announcing the closures and said affected workers will have opportunities to move elsewhere in the company.

"These flights in these cities just don't make sense for AirTran any longer," Jordan said. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs, editing by Bernard Orr)

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