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Southwest Airlines (LUV - Analyst Report) along with its wholly owned affiliate AirTran Airways made provisions to allow customers to book flight reservations till Nov 1. Apart from extending this advance booking schedule, the airline also announced the launch of four new low fare non-stop routes.

Dallas, Texas-based Southwest will start operating between Des Moines and Las Vegas for the first time. The company will also launch introductory one-way flights from Nashville to Pittsburgh, from Atlanta to San Diego, and from Jacksonville to Chicago. Services in these routes will be available between Sep 27 and Oct 31, while booking is open till Mar 17.

Apart from these, the company will also introduce initial service in San Juan, Puerto Rico from Apr 14, with two non-stop flights to Florida –Tampa Bay and Orlando. From Sep 29, there will also be two non-stop services between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and San Juan, each day.  

Additionally, Southwest aims to bring back its seasonal service in three destinations, while AirTran will tap the Florida market with both-way seasonal flights to Houston, New Orleans, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

To woo customers with complementary benefits along with low fares, Southwest not only enables flyers to check two bags for free but also change a ticket without an extra fee. People can book tickers on the respective websites of the carriers, in compliance with the fare rules.

In the days ahead, Southwest targets to introduce services in unexplored domestic markets including Branson, Missouri; Charlotte, North Carolina; Flint, Michigan; Rochester, New York; Portland, Maine; Wichita, Kansas; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The company also plans to debut in Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico.

We believe that Southwest’s efforts to optimize its network with the introduction of new national and international services across various locations will reap long-term benefits. The various low-cost seasonal flights will likely attract a lot of customers, resulting in higher revenue and earnings in the coming quarters.

A prominent brand name and peer-leading operational base plus expansion of in-flight amusement options and addition of novel features to services will distinguish Southwest from other firms and provide a competitive edge over other industry players such as United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Analyst Report), Delta Air Lines (DAL - Analyst Report) and JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU - Analyst Report). Southwest currently holds a Zacks Rank #3, implying a Hold rating.

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