Southwest Airlines will convert two San Juan routes operated by its subsidiary AirTran Airways to Southwest flights from 14 April 2013, marking the first flights outside of the continental USA operated by the Dallas-based carrier.

With the change, Southwest will operate thrice daily between San Juan and Orlando, and once daily between San Juan and Tampa.

AirTran will continue to operate its flights between San Juan and Baltimore/Washington, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta, says Southwest, which adds that it will determine when to convert these to Southwest flights at a later date.

Southwest closed on its acquisition of AirTran in May 2011, and is in the process of integrating both carriers' networks.

"AirTran has done a wonderful job establishing a presence in this market, and Southwest is proud to continue that legacy and extend our vast network of destinations, exceptional customer service, and convenient low fares to the San Juan community," says Southwest's executive vice president and chief commercial officer Bob Jordan, who is also AirTran's president.

Southwest will compete against JetBlue on the San Juan-Orlando route, schedules in Innovata show. It will be the only airline operating between San Juan and Tampa.

Southwest won approval from its flight attendants in September to operate flights over water and to international destinations, clearing the way for it to take over the San Juan flights.

It will eventually take over AirTran's international operations once it switches to a reservations system that will allow it to handle international flights, likely in 2014.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news