Southwest Airlines this week announced new service from South Florida to three destinations in the Caribbean and Central America. The daily flights from a (continually improving) Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reach Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and San Jose in Costa Rica.
It’s good news for a part of the world that has devoted itself to relief, recovery, and rebuilding since the late-summer one-two punch of hurricanes of Irene and Maria. As the region’s high season ramps up, the message from islands—with one lamentable exception—is loud and clear: We’re open for business.
“We’re investing in the Caribbean with an optimistic outlook on travel and tourism as our hearts remain with those still facing significant challenges,” said Steve Goldberg, Southwest’s senior vice president of operations & hospitality.
The low-cost airline now serves 10 destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America, and there’s more expansion on the horizon, including Saturday flights between Houston and Grand Cayman and planned nonstops from Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham to Cancun, beginning in June 2018 (bringing total Saturday departures to the Mexican resort town to 27 from 16 U.S. airports).
More good news: Puerto Rico, still struggling to recover from Maria’s wrath, figures prominently in Southwest’s future, as well. After the hurricane—the strongest storm to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 89 years—Southwest pushed some two dozen unscheduled flights to San Juan, transporting aid workers and relief supplies. And for summer 2018, the airline will augment daily service to SJU from Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby.