Southwest spreads its wings outside U.S.

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Southwest Airlines stretched its reputation as a fiesty domestic airline Tuesday when it landed a jet in Aruba.

Southwest’s international expansion, for now, is a matter of converting AirTran routes to Southwest flights. The company is starting with flights from Atlanta, Baltimore and Orlando to Aruba and Jamaica. AirTran Airways was bought by Southwest in 2011.

Southwest’s first international flights from Midway Airport are expected in November.

The airline carries more passengers in the U.S. than any of its competitors. AirTran’s international flights represent less than 1 percent of the parent company’s capacity but executives say international routes are a big part of Southwest’s growth strategy. Southwest might someday have between 70 and 80 planes assigned to international routes.

Dallas-based Southwest plans to phase out the AirTran brand by year end.

Southwest Airlines announces international flights

Southwest now cleared for international departures (Fortune)

Everything changes for Southwest Airlines today (Time)

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