Southwest Airlines has launched its first international service from Fort Lauderdale, ahead of the planned opening of a new concourse that will allow it to grow its overseas network from the South Florida airport.

The Dallas-based carrier launched daily service to Nassau in the Bahamas on 7 August. US-bound travellers from Nassau clear US customs and immigrations at the Bahamian airport, which allowed Southwest to begin international service from Fort Lauderdale before the new concourse is ready.

Southwest is overseeing the construction of the new five-gate international concourse with US immigrations facilities in Fort Lauderdale's terminal one, scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2017.

The facility will allow the airline to expand its international network, particularly to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The carrier, however, will launch service later this year from Fort Lauderdale to Cuba ahead of the opening of the new concourse. It is among several US carriers that have received tentative approval from US regulators to begin scheduled Cuban service.

Southwest has said it will operate the Cuban flights into Fort Lauderdale's terminal four which handles international arrivals, before the new concourse opens.

The airline competes against JetBlue Airways and Bahamasair on Fort Lauderdale-Nassau, FlightGlobal schedules data show. American Airlines and Bahamasair also offer service between Miami and Nassau.

Source: Cirium Dashboard