Southwest Airlines plans to launch its first flights to Central America.
The Dallas-based carrier said Friday it has applied for permission to fly to San Jose, Costa Rica, from Baltimore. The flights would begin March 7.
Southwest launched its first international flights on July 1 and will be flying to seven non-U.S. cities by the end of the year as it absorbs merger partner AirTran Airway’s destinations.
In addition to its first foray outside Mexico and the Caribbean, the Costa Rica flights mark Southwest’s first international destination that hadn’t been served by AirTran.
“We’re ready to add the adventure and beauty of Costa Rica to a growing horizon of international possibility available to the more than 100 million Customers who fly with us each year,” Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said in Southwest’s announcement.
“Our people and policies bring unique value to the travel experience and we have big plans to extend that value to international destinations where our customers want to go. Our substantial presence in Baltimore/Washington is a natural place to do that by bringing nonstop access to new, international markets,” Kelly said.
Southwest entered the Baltimore market in 1993 and is now its biggest airline there, as the airline noted in its application filed Friday with the U.S. Department of Transportation:
“Southwest is the largest U.S. airline in terms of domestic passengers carried and provides more service at BWI than any other carrier by a wide margin with 204 daily flights to 60 cities. Southwest’s proposed new international service will provide the only scheduled nonstop flights to Costa Rica from BWI.
“In addition, the proposed service will offer convenient one-stop connecting opportunities for passengers in small and medium sized cities without nonstop service to Costa Rica such as Albany, Buffalo, Hartford, Islip, Manchester, Providence and Rochester.”