DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Big changes are coming this summer to Southwest Airlines. Starting on July 1, the Dallas based carrier will be going international for the first time with flights to Aruba, The Bahamas and Jamaica.
With employees playing steel drums, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly made the announcement on Monday morning. Travelers can start booking their Caribbean flights right away. The international flights will operate nonstop every day from Orlando, Baltimore and Atlanta.
Under the Wright Amendment, Southwest Airlines is only able to fly to four states from Texas: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Passengers must then hop from those locations to their final destinations. But that will change in October when the Wright Amendment is officially lifted.
Kelly said that international flights will be added to Dallas Love Field later this year.
Southwest Airlines will be using the same itinerary as AirTran Airways, which the carrier acquired back in 2011. AirTran Airways also currently flies to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The introduction of international flights to Southwest Airlines is a "first phase" in converging flights from the two carriers. Both will operate under the Southwest Airlines name by next year.
More international destinations are expected to be added at a later date. "2015 would be a logical time to seriously consider expanding our international flying," said Kelly.
The next big announcement from Southwest Airlines comes later this spring, as the carrier says where it will fly nonstop beginning on October 13, when the Wright Amendment ends