Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) has announced an expansion to their current selection of service countries when it comes to international flights. However, the company also announced an update to their domestic flight schedules as well, adding some additional destinations. The move comes as the airline industry as a whole struggles to adapt to changing climates, and increased awareness of fees, risk, and other factors associated with flying. Southwest Airlines announced that they would be expanding their international service to Liberia and Costa Rica, in addition to the current setup of destinations they currently handle. Both of these destinations will prove to be prime real estate, given how popular both have become over the course of the last decade, or two.
However, Southwest Airlines also added Houston, Texas to the list of destinations that they would accommodate with service this coming year. While that service will take hold on November 1st according to their documentation, the true reason was that Southwest saw an opportunity where airfares were currently higher than they should have been. Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO, Gary Kelly pointed out that there was a unique opportunity here to help both Southwest Airlines, as well as flyers in the Houston area. He said while speaking to a crowd in Houston, “Houstonians have endured some of the highest international airfares in the country.” He continued, “Southwest is putting our promise, our People, and our planes on these routes because you deserve lower fares and better service.”
Kelly continued to point out though that the changes weren’t just where the planes are going, but rather what planes are going to these destinations. He said, “We schedule those airplanes on the proper routes and fill them up and it drives really nice economic benefits.” The airplanes he’s referencing are those which Southwest Airlines has ordered to expand their operation here in the United States. The fleet of Boeing 747’s will be amongst the best planes, which also offer additional cabin space and give consumers the best overall experience possible.
Interestingly, these changes and these moves are some that are being made as the airline industry continues to move and shift based on changing values and opinions of those who are watching. This also goes a long way to changing how people perceive Southwest Airlines. Right now, they’re seen as a company that doesn’t really have a ton going on outside of their expansion, and the airline industry as a whole is relatively flat. As this changes and things improve – ultimately what we’re going to be seeing is an evolving window of opportunity for these companies.