Southwest Airlines plans to launch service to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, out of Orange County, Calif., on June 7, 2015, Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said Monday.
Speaking at an investors’ conference at its Southwest headquarters, Kelly said Southwest expects to add two more international destinations in 2015 and “I suppose there could be one more.”
Those cities are in addition to Southwest’s previous announcement it will begin flying to San Jose, Costa Rica, from Baltimore in March. With San Jose and Puerto Vallerta, Southwest will be up to nine non-U.S. destinations.
Southwest began flying internationally in July when it took over three destinations served by merger partner AirTran Airways. It finished absorbing AirTran’s international network serving seven non-U.S. cities in early November.
Kelly also said that its new nonstop service out of Dallas Love Field is going “extremely well.” Load factors are averaging over 90 percent on the 49 additional flights it is offering beyond the old Wright amendment area, Kelly said.
“Dallas Love Field is the majority of what I would call our normal growth in 2015, and it’s obviously all domestic,” Kelly said.
Chief financial officer Tammy Romo expanded that to say that half of Southwest’s capacity growth in 2015, in available seat miles flown, would be at Dallas Love Field. A lot of that is the longer stage lengths — Romo said the average stage length out of Love Field will be 70 percent higher in 2015 than in 2014.
Kelly said Southwest expects to end 2015 with about 700 airplanes, about the same as today. But it expects to begin growing the fleet in 2016, 2017 and 2018, at a percentage rate in the low single digits, Kelly said.