Last updated: 10:03 PM ET, Wed March 11 2015

Southwest Gets Clearance for Mexico City-Houston Route

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | March 11, 2015

Southwest Gets Clearance for Mexico City-Houston Route

Just days after Southwest Airlines launched its first international flight out of Houston’s Hobby Airport, the carrier received more good news – the U.S. Department of Transportation will finally approve its request to fly to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas from Hobby.

Previously shut out of those routes by the presence of United Airlines flying there, and by limitations on the number of flights between the three cities due to a U.S.-Mexico bilateral treaty, Southwest was pleased to learn the favorable news on Tuesday after Mexico said it would look favorably on the airline’s application.

In a statement, the DOT said it asked its counterpart — the Mexican Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC) — whether it would consider amendments to the existing treaty to allow more flights.

“In doing so, the Department noted that the United States has positively considered requests from the DGAC to grant certain extrabilateral authority to Mexican carriers. The DGAC advised the Department that it will, on the basis of reciprocity, favorably consider an application from Southwest for Houston-Mexico City and Houston-San Jose del Cabo services,” the DOT said in its decision. “We find that the public interest warrants our approval of Southwest’s application, and that we can proceed to such approval without needing to withdraw or otherwise place in issue the designations or authorities of any of the currently authorized U.S. carriers in these city-pair markets.”

Which, of course, makes United happy that it at least won’t lose its existing routes.

Southwest has made a big investment in Hobby Airport and is currently building a $156 million international terminal with five gates. The terminal won’t be completed until October but it is partially open, enough for Southwest to have launched its first international flight from Hobby on Saturday to Aruba.

That puts a dent on Houston’s other main airport, George H. Bush Intercontinental, which had for years had the monopoly on international flights.

Southwest also plans to add flights from Hobby to Belize, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, San Jose, Costa Rica and, now, of course, Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas. 

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