Southwest Airlines launches service to Aruba and Costa Rica
DALLAS - Southwest Airlines on Saturday inaugurated two international routes to Aruba and Costa Rica that bring new long-haul service for customers using two of the carrier's growing gateways, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston.
Each of the new routes is longer than 2,000 miles each way and marks historic milestones for the carrier both by connecting Central America to the Southwest network of destinations and by offering its longest-ever nonstop scheduled service from any of Southwest's Texas Triangle of original cities of Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
Beginning Saturday, Southwest Airlines operates nonstop service between San Jose, Costa Rica, and Baltimore/Washington on a once daily basis; and Aruba and Houston (Hobby) seasonally, once every Saturday through August 8, 2015
At Houston's Hobby Airport, Southwest Employees celebrated the first Aruba-bound morning departure. Later, customers on the first inbound international flight deplaned directly into a celebration in the main domestic concourse, following their US Customs and Border Protection preclearance process prior to departing the Caribbean island.
This is the first-ever international flying offered from Houston Hobby. This October, Southwest is scheduled to complete the construction of a $156 million international terminal project which will give Houstonians and Southwest customers from across the network access to more international destinations.
"CBP's preclearance program allows us to deliver early on the promise we made Houstonians to couple our low fares and high-value customer service with heart to places outside the US," said Teresa Laraba, Southwest's senior vice president of customers. "This is just the beginning of a very big 2015 for our Houston employees and customers with an additional six destinations across three countries coming online at Hobby later this year."
Southwest Airlines flight 602 from Baltimore/Washington to San Jose, Costa Rica, brought 143 customers and the carrier’s personality and value to Central America for the first time in the 44-year history of the largest domestic carrier in the United States.
Dozens of people came to Juan Santamaria International Airport outside San Jose at the invitation of the Costa Rica Tourism Board to welcome the historic arrival in the lush country known for its natural beauty and adventure tourism.
"Costa Ricans share something with our people – a passion to serve and create the kind of hospitality that brings travelers back for more," said Captain Chuck Magill, Southwest's vice president of operational coordination. "Today, just as much as we celebrate the journey, we celebrate the destinations and relationships we now offer on either side of this new link. Our first scheduled flight to Central America realizes years of dedicated work by our employees to connect people in Costa Rica with what's important in their lives."