Southwest plans new non-stop flights in 4Q

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Southwest Airlines plans to launch five new non-stop routes from 4 November as part of its new winter schedule, which will also see more AirTran Airways routes transition to Southwest metal.

The new route update comes three months after the US Federal Aviation Administration granted a single operating certificate to the two carriers, which merged in May 2011 following AirTran's acquisition by Southwest.

Southwest will launch twice daily non-stop service between Dallas Love Field and Harlingen (Texas); once daily service between Denver and Louisville (Kentucky); twice daily service between Houston Hobby and Indianapolis, once daily service between Houston Hobby and Orange County, and once daily service between Kansas City and New Orleans.

Southwest acquired AirTran in May 2011 and is in the process of integrating AirTran's operations with its own. From 4 November, it will assume operations from AirTran on seven routes: Key West-Orlando; Key West-Tampa Bay; Boston Logan-Milwaukee; Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood-Milwaukee; San Francisco-Milwaukee; and Orlando-Minneapolis/St Paul.

With the transition, Key West will switch to a Southwest market from an AirTran one. The Milwaukee transitions represent about a dozen flights that will switch to Southwest metal, says Southwest network planner Bill Owen in a blog post. "Each of these Southwest additions at Milwaukee corresponds to an equivalent reduction using AirTran aircraft," he adds.

As part of the winter schedule, AirTran will also add seasonal non-stop service on 10 routes: Buffalo-Tampa Bay; Akron-Canton-Fort Myers; Columbus-Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood; Columbus-Tampa Bay; Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood-Indianapolis; Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood-Philadelphia; Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay; Rochester-Tampa Bay; Flint-Fort Myers and Grand Rapids-Fort Myers.

Southwest will discontinue non-stop service between Birmingham and Nashville, between Chicago Midway and Indianapolis, and between Fort Myers and Orlando, says Owen.

It will also withdraw service between Hartford and Las Vegas, and between Birmingham and Phoenix for the winter season.