As announced earlier, Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV - Analyst Report) is expanding its service to Cancun and Los Cabos in Mexico after debuting in international skies last month. The flight adds to the newly launched services from Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando to Oranjestad, Aruba and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Southwest Airlines will now operate daily service between Santa Ana, CA and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos Mexico along with another one from Atlanta/Baltimore to Cancun. A Saturday only service between Cancun and Mexico will be launched on Aug 16, 2014. Additionally, flights to Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic will be started from Nov 2.
The new destinations will be accretive to Southwest’s international operation as maximum U.S. visitors fly to Los Cabos as a popular tourist destination from California. On the other hand, Mexicans comprise a large chunk of the tourist population traveling to Southern California. We believe such passengers will benefit immensely from Southwest Airlines’ low fare base.
After operating for several decades within the U.S. domestic market, Southwest Airlines inaugurated its international services in Jul 2014. The carrier has come a long way since it started operations four decades ago. Having established itself as a top domestic carrier, the company now plans to flag off international flights from nine U.S. cities by the end of 2014.
At the moment, however, international services will have only a modest contribution in Southwest Airlines’ overall performance. In this regard, the carrier will naturally lag behind larger rivals like Delta Airlines Inc. (DAL - Analyst Report), American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL - Analyst Report) and United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Analyst Report), which boast strong international operations.
Through this expansion Southwest Airlines is technically taking over the operations of its subsidiary AirTran, which flies to the Caribbean. However, Southwest Airlines’ international service is here to stay for good as the carrier plans to add 50 international routes going forward. We believe the carrier should gain from its competitively priced low fares as compared to its traditional rivals.
Southwest Airlines currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).