US low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines launched its first international flights from Oakland International Airport just ahead of this year’s Routes Americas. The carrier introduced daily services to two popular destinations on the Mexican Riviera, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos from February 12, 2017.
“Linking the East and North Bay to these Mexican beach resort areas with time-saving itineraries brings our customers low-fare and high-value service that traffic patterns show is already important in their lives,” said Leah Koontz, vice president of finance & controller. “We’re adding non-stop service that extends the reach of Oakland’s convenient and easy airport experience to bring two of the top-ranking international destinations that currently don’t have a non-stop option.”
Southwest’s expansion into the international market from Oakland International comes as the airport enhances its facilities to handle a significant increase in international traffic during 2017. Work is well underway to modernise and expand the International Arrivals Building for US Customs & Border Protection services, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2017.
“We’re thrilled that Southwest continues to have East and North Bay residents in mind, adding these two often requested routes from Oakland, home of their largest and most extensive Bay Area operation. Travelers across Southwest’s western network - in particular those in Reno-Tahoe, Boise, Spokane, and Portland – also now have faster and more reliable options by connecting here at Oakland International," said John Albrecht, manager, aviation marketing and communications, Port of Oakland at the air service development forum in Las Vegas, USA.
Oakland International is the fourth busiest airport in California and second busiest in the San Francisco Bay Area serving over 12 million travelers annually. It is the closest airport to the region’s top tourism and entertainment venues which has helped it to deliver over 60 destinations across 13 different airline brands – seven of which operate with OAK as their sole gateway into the San Francisco Bay region.
These two new non-stop flights will translate to greatly reduced journey times for sun and fun seekers flying down to Mexico. According to schedule data from intelligence provider OAG, the San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos market was last served from Oakland International ten years ago in 2007 when America West Airlines and latterly US Airways served the market.
Southwest Airlines boosted its capacity out of Oakland International by 9.3 per cent in 2016, growing its network with new links to Long Beach and St Louis and the return of Reno flights. This followed new services being introduced to Atlanta, Columbus, Dallas Love Field, New Orleans and the resumption of Nashville services in 2015. Alongside the international routes Southwest is also adding flights between Oakland and Newark from the start of June 2017.