This week, the Dallas-based airline made public a mix of upcoming changes.
For fans of Southwest Airlines, this week brought both good and bad news: The airline will be adding service to some destinations and discontinuing it to others.
First, the bad news: Newark is on the chopping block, where Southwest will cease scheduled flights on November 3, 2019. Although it’s been operating at the New Jersey airport since 2011, going forward, Southwest will concentrate its New York City–area flights out of LaGuardia. (It does not fly out of NYC-JFK.) Southwest currently has 20 daily flights out of Newark to 10 cities across the United States, including Chicago and Phoenix, and fliers on these routes will be rebooked or can receive a refund, according to USA Today.
In large part, the decision to cease service at Newark can be attributed to financial implications surrounding Boeing 737 Max planes, which regulators grounded in March over concerns about software systems. (Boeing is currently testing a software fix.) Southwest has more of the planes than any other airline, with 34, and despite Boeing’s promise to return the planes to service as early as October, Southwest has said it won’t fly the Max again until January 5, 2020, to give its pilots time to complete new training on the planes. This factor—coupled with below-average performance at Newark—led to Southwest’s decision to focus its efforts on LaGuardia, said CEO Gary Kelly in a statement.
Now for the good news: The world’s largest low-cost carrier also announced that it would begin adding new Hawaii flights to the mix, after beginning service from Oakland, California, to Honolulu in March 2019. Southwest didn’t supply specifics about where in Hawaii it will fly to or from, but the airline has said in the past that it would look to provide Hawaiian connections with Sacramento and San Diego. Tickets for some of the yet-to-be-announced routes will go on sale in August.
Southwest also revealed plans to begin flying from Houston to Cozumel, Mexico, an island east of Playa del Carmen, in 2020. Though it primarily flies domestic, Southwest in recent years has pushed its international routes, which stretch across Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, with destinations including Nassau, Bahamas, and San Jose, Costa Rica.