Southwest looks to broaden AirTran reach into Mexico

Washington DC
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Southwest Airlines has contacted Houston Hobby airport officials to discuss proposals for expanding AirTran's quickly growing reach into the Mexican market.

The Dallas-based carrier confirmed that "we've expressed interest" in launching international service from Houston's secondary airport.

The contacts led to a meeting earlier this week between Southwest and leaders of the Houston Airport System.

They discussed "possibilities for near international service in their individual markets," Southwest said.

The carrier also noted there is "nothing new to announce on routes or timeframe".

Houston-Hobby is a domestic airport and requires new customs and immigration facilities to support international service.

Airport officials confirmed that discussions had started with Southwest over new international service from Houston.

"We are currently evaluating the request made by Southwest and have agreed to give it fair and full consideration," the carrier said.

Southwest acquired AirTran last May and has pushed the carrier's expansion into Mexico. AirTran now plans to start new routes in May between San Antonio, Texas and Cancun, Mexico and in June between Orange County, California, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

AirTran also is seeking to block Frontier Airlines from obtaining slots to launch service between Chicago-O'Hare and Cancun. Instead, AirTran has applied to the Department of Transportation to obtain the slots for a new route between Chicago-Midway and Cancun, Mexico.