Southwest Airlines inaugurated flights to Cuba on 13 November in the form of a twice-daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Varadero. Southwest becomes the third carrier to enter the US-Cuba market since traffic rights between the two nations were lifted earlier this year after 50+ years.
- Southwest Airlines became the third airline to enter the US-Cuba market on 13 November when it inaugurated flights between Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Varadero (VRA). The 360-kilometre airport pairing will be flown by the LCC twice-daily on its 737-700s. "Our employees have worked hard to open this route and a new chapter for people who want to connect with Cuban ways that matter most to them," said Steve Goldberg, Southwest Airlines' VP of Ground Operations who is also Southwest's Executive Ambassador to Florida. Goldberg also announced that Southwest intends to begin a daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara on 15 December, subject to requisite approvals of the Cuban government. "By the end of this year, we'll offer six daily rotations between two Florida gateways and three Cuban cities, while work continues to open a new, five-gate international concourse here in Fort Lauderdale next summer." The other two routes that Goldberg is referencing to, adding to the one launched on 13 November, are connections from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to Havana, with both penciled into the calendar for a 12 December launch. Southwest joins JetBlue Airways and Silver Airways in connecting the two countries, with neither of them currently linking Fort Lauderdale to Varadero. As of 15 November, Fort Lauderdale is connected to eight Cuban airports with 51 weekly flights. See how Fort Lauderdale and Varadero airports FTWAs compare to others from around the world.