By the Caribbean Journal staff
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is set for another expansion of service to the Caribbean in 2020, according to the company.
Southwest will be launching new nonstop routes to Cozumel, Mexico and Turks and Caicos next spring.
That will include a new twice-daily roundtrip flight between Houston Hobby and Cozumel, with flights set to launch March 7.
“Scuba divers and beach fans long have wished to fly with us to enjoy this underwater paradise,” said Bill Tierney, Vice President of Marketing for Southwest. “We’ll bring the world-famous hospitality and value of Southwest to Cozumel while bringing a new beach destination within reach for our Customers, just as we’ve done before with service to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos and the Caribbean.”
The Cozumel launch is a sign of the destination’s growing travel demand; the island off the coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya has long been one of the Western Caribbean’s most popular cruise ports, and is now coming to its own as a stayover tourism hotspot.
On the same day, Southwest will also be launching seasonal Saturday service from Baltimore/Washington to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
Southwest first launched service to Turks and Caicos in 2017 with a route from Fort Lauderdale and Provo.
Both of the new Southwest routes have already launched reservations, according to Southwest Airlines.
The planned launches continue what have been several years of broad expansion in the wider Caribbean region, from traditional Caribbean tourism powerhouses like Montego Bay and Cancun to routes to Belize in the Western Caribbean.
After JetBlue and American Airlines set the tone in recent years with major expansions in the wider Caribbean, more and more carriers have begun to solidify their positions, too, from Spirit Airlines’ continued ramp up of flights to the region from Orlando to new routes from Sun Country Airlines.
Those have been focused on two primary airports: Houston Hobby and Fort Lauderdale; the latter has become one of the new centers of Caribbean travel from the United States market.