Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) today welcomed news from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that the carrier has been preliminarily awarded authority to serve Havana with twice daily nonstop service from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and once daily nonstop service from Tampa Bay International Airport. Pending finalized authority from DOT and subject to requisite approvals from the Cuban government, Southwest® confirms it will begin its Cuba service later this year to Havana (HAV), along with previously awarded service to Varadero (VRA) and Santa Clara (SNU). The carrier will have a total of five daily departures from Ft. Lauderdale (Miami Area) to Cuba—two to Havana, two to Varadero, and one to Santa Clara—plus one daily departure from Tampa to Havana.
“Our Countdown to Cuba continues with new enthusiasm, and we’re finalizing plans to bring our world famous value and Customer Service to these emerging U.S. travel markets,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, & CEO. “As the largest carrier of domestic passengers in the United States*, these nonstop flights from two of our Florida focus cities will provide high-quality, low-fare service to our Customers while also offering convenient connections to Cuba for dozens of U.S. cities across the Southwest network.”
Southwest filed an application with the DOT requesting governmental approval to serve Cuba with daily nonstop flights from the carrier’s three busiest airports in Florida. Following the initial application on March 2, 2016, Southwest received 120+ letters of support from local, regional, and national organizations, including Orlando, Inc., South Florida Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, Tampa Bay Partnership, United States Black Chamber of Commerce, United States Business Leaders Network, and United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.
At the filing deadline, more than 25,000 individual supporters had endorsed Southwest’s DOT application by visiting Southwest.com/Cuba to petition U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. These individuals consist of a diverse voice of tens of thousands of citizens across the country supporting Southwest’s low-fare competition and Customer-friendly travel options to Cuba.
Southwest will soon publish its low fares and flight schedules for Cuba service and intends to begin operations to Cuba later this year. Southwest continues to plan for 2016 year-over-year available seat mile (ASM) growth in the 5-6 percent range.