The FINANCIAL — Southwest Airlines Co. on December 12 began service to the carrier’s 100th city, Havana, Cuba, with inaugural celebration on flights departing two U.S. gateway airports, Tampa International and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International.
Southwest Employees and Executive Leaders joined Customers in traveling aboard the first-ever Southwest flights to Havana. The Company’s social media fans joined a conversation by sharing memories and images of the milestone day through the hashtag #Southwest100.
“I’m grateful to our more than 53,000 Southwest Employees and everyone who’s been part of our Southwest Family during the past 45 years who built our airline to this moment in history—we now operate flights from 100 cities across nine countries,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, & CEO, before a welcoming delegation at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. “Our daily nonstop flight from Tampa and twice daily service from Fort Lauderdale bring additional vital links for our Customers who count on us to connect them with places and people that are important in their lives through unmatched value in air travel.”
Service to Santa Clara, Cuba, the carrier’s 101st city served, begins this Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. Service to Varadero, Cuba, began Nov. 13, 2016.
From its first flights on June 18, 1971, connecting a triangle of Texas cities with a fleet of just three aircraft, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel. The U.S. Department of Transportation later described this phenomenon as “The Southwest Effect,” a lowering of fares that increases passenger traffic in new, nonstop markets the carrier serves. Now, with more than 53,000 Employees, Southwest carries more than 100 million people annually aboard the world’s largest fleet of Boeing aircraft. With 43 consecutive years of profitability behind it, Southwest also is widely recognized as one of the most honored airlines in the world, according to Southwest Airlines.
Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer all Customers its bags fly free® policy (applies to the first and second checked pieces of luggage, with applicable size and weight limitations) and never charges change fees, though fare differences could apply when plans change.
“Some airlines allow free checked bags on select routes or only in qualified circumstances. In contrast, we proudly offer two free checked bags to every Customer because it’s a foundational value in every fare we sell,” Kelly said. “In our fifth decade of service, we’re now seeing the Southwest Effect in international markets as our Customer-friendly policies reach beyond the U.S. border on our growing route map.”